Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Identity of Sequoyah's Father is STILL a Mystery, Part 2

The Paternity of Sequoyah, Part 2

In Part 1, I followed the stories my family has shared through the years about us being related to Sequoyah. I am not saying that our Nathaniel was his father, but rather that he might have been Sequoyah's father. I have NEVER said that "the other" Nathaniel Gist was NOT Sequoyah's father -- just that he isn't the only contender for that position. That's all. Part one was about me reaching out to close relatives. I have discovered I have relatives in Alabama, who are also Guess/Gists. They too, have heard or had family rumors of a possible family connection to Sequoyah. I hope one day I can share some of their family stories about them being "somehow" related to Sequoyah through that surname, as I did about my closer relatives.

But this, part 2, is about researching our family history back in time. I often followed dead ends, so many that I often got depressed thinking I would never find our ancestors. But by rejecting the promising leads that led nowhere, I was worried I would never find anything. One lead in ten looked promising, and for years that one promising lead led to a dead end. But in the end persistence and patience won out. I looked LITERALLY for twenty years. Between five and ten years ago that search finally started bearing fruit. After finding all The Guess/Gist families we couldn't have descended from, we starting hitting pay dirt. I was like a miner striking dry hole after dry hole, until finally finally coming across a couple of veins of ore.

Two things made this possible -- first-- the internet. Someone else mined vast stores of genealogical information, and placed it in a format I was able to access. That was my first vein of ore. Second ore deposit -- DNA research -- This made it possible to determine which group of "Guess/Gist's" we came from. We now know precisely which group we descend from. There is no longer any doubt. Here are some of those findings that tie us with earlier generations of our family.

James, Harriet, and Rachel

We have the record of Harriet's marriage in 1841 to David B. Brown, in Shelby County, Tennessee. For a long time this stumped us. Why Shelby County, Tennessee?

We'd found our Guess/Gist's and Brown's both in Lawrence County, Alabama. A record mentions one of my Guess/Gist's in Alabama in 1818 and  the Brown's are mentioned in 1820. However there was a "Brown's Ferry" across the Tennessee River at that location since at least the time of War of 1812. When Catherine Brown died, she crossed the river in the vicinity of the same "Brown's Ferry". There was another earlier "Brown's Ferry" across the Tennessee River in the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Had an elderly John Brown moved down stream? No one seems to know the reason why this other "Brown's Ferry" got its name. Our Guess/Gist's lived in the same region. But which one did we descend from?

We got a break on this. There was another genealogy researcher looking for a "Rachel McNutt" and he posted online that there seemed to have been two Rachel McNutt's. The one he was looking for was born with that name. Another, a Rachel "Guist" married a man surnamed "McNutt".  They are on the 1830 census of Lawrence County, Alabama. In researching Rachel, we discovered she'd been born Rachel Havens. She married a man surnamed "Guess/Guist/Gist" who had apparently died @ 1820 and quickly remarried Thomas Tolbert/Talbot. We have a record of this marriage, below.

He died within the year and she remarried, in 1822, Emanuel McNutt. They are on the 1830 census having four children too old to have been "McNutt's" living in the household. One of them "might have been" a Tolbert/Talbot, but I suspect all four were "Guess/Gist's", from her first marriage. The interesting thing about this family is that on the 1840 census, they are living in Shelby County, Tennessee, the same Shelby County that David Brown and Harriet Guess/Gist are married in in 1841.

They moved back to North Central Alabama, where David is found on an 1847 tax list as is his father, John Brown. On the 1848 tax list David Brown appears on a tax list in Lawrence County, Arkansas, so we know the year they moved from Alabama to Arkansas. On the 1850 census John's wife, Mary, is head of household in Alabama. Her husband John Brown is head of household in 1840 census and his name, too, is on that 1847 tax list, as is a William Brown, who lives close to out David. So John Brown either died or moved off. I suspect he had died between 1847 and 1850. On the 1860 census Mary is still head of the same household, who by now are also living in Lawrence County, Arkansas, by our David and Harriet (Guess) Brown and family.

One day I was contacted by email by the descendants of a "James Gist". They told me of his Civil War pension papers. I obtained a copy, and it confirmed their story. It said James had been born in Lawrence County, Alabama, about 1819. He had married his wife in 1847, also in Shelby County, Tennessee, and in 1850 he was in Dade County, Missouri, however his eldest child was born in Arkansas. As I said, Harriet had brothers and a sister per census records, who were also Guess/Gist's. James Civil War records said he was of a "dark" complexion, with dark eyes and black hair. This has to be Harriet's only known full brother. Harriet's 1850 census said she was b. abt. 1817-1818 in Tennessee, while her brother was b. a year or two later, in Alabama. Lawrence County, Alabama records say Thomas Gist married Nancy Roney in 1818. There is also the record saying the Christopher Gist also found in Lawrence County, Alabama, showing his birth as 1804 in Tennessee. We also have our Harriet born in Tennessee in 1817. We think Christopher was Harriet's uncle with an unknown brother of Christopher being her father, and we know Rachel (Havens) Guist was her mother.

Here is James Gist's discharge from the Union Army dated 1863. On this document James says he was born in Lawrence County, Alabama, had dark complexion and dark eyes, with black hair.
After James died in 1865, his wife applied for a pension. In this document she says they were married in Shelby County, Tennessee.

Back in Time to North Carolina

In Butch Walker's book "Walking Sipsey" he mentions David Smith and James Havens. David had married James' daughter. When James died, he was said to have mentioned that he wanted to be buried next to his Indian friends. While researching my family of Guess/Gist's, I discovered David Smith was a Guess/Gist. His son wrote a short autobiography of his father's family. In that document he said David's mother was Mary Gist, daughter of Nathaniel Gist. He goes on to say Nathaniel knew George Washington and that his family were the relatives of Sequoyah. David says his father was Robert Smith. These same North Carolina records mention his wife's name -- Mary, and say he has a son named David as well, the same names mentioned by David's son. There is little doubt that this is the same family. When you read historical documentation from Cumberland County, North Carolina, you'll see Robert Smith sold some land to Nathaniel Gist. But this is not the famous Nathaniel, the son of Christopher who knew George Washington, but the Nathaniel Gist who was his first cousin.

Here is what David's son wrote about his parents;

"Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck; Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri; Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records of Many of the Representative Citizens

"JOHN RANDOLPH SMITH, M. D. That life is the most useful and desirable that results in the greatest good to the greatest number and though all do not reach the heights to which they aspire, yet in some measure each can win success and make life a blessing to his fellowman; and it is not necessary for one to occupy eminent public positions to do so, for in the humbler walks of life there remains much good to be accomplished and many opportunities for one to exercise one's talents and influence which in some way will touch the lives of those with whom we come in contact, making them better and brighter. In the list of Greene county's honored citizens is Dr. John Randolph Smith, now living in honorable retirement after a long, useful and eminently successful career as a physician, having for many years ranked among the leading professional men of southwestern Missouri. In his career there is much that is commendable and his life forcibly illustrates what one can accomplish even in the face of obstacles if one's plans are wisely laid and his actions governed by right principles, noble aims and high ideals.

"Doctor Smith was born on January 27, 1836, at Monticello, Kentucky, a scion of an excellent old southern family. He is a son of David and Charlotte (Havens) Smith, born in 1777 and 1800 respectively, who removed to Newton county, Missouri, in 1836, and were thus pioneer settlers in this, state. David Smith died January 24, 1845, when Doctor Smith was nine years of age, and his wife died in May, 1884. Our subject was an infant in arms at that time and he grew to manhood in Newton county, received a limited education in the old-time subscription schools and worked on a farm during his boyhood. But he was an ambitious youth and studied hard at home, taking an interest in medicine when only sixteen years of age, and about that time began studying medicine under, Dr. J. W. Walker in Jasper county, Missouri. He made rapid progress and was equipped for his chosen career at an early age, being a fine example of a self-made man. He first began practice at Diamond Grove, this state. Seeing the need of a college training he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, and took the course in the medical college there. He owes much of his success in life to his mother who was a well educated woman and taught him much at home. In his youth he taught school for a time in Newton county, Missouri. Finally turning his attention to the newspaper field he started, owned and operated the Weekly Record at Stella, Missouri, which he retained until in February, 1914, when he retired from active life. From 1871 to 1873, inclusive, he owned and operated a wholesale and retail drug store in Springfield, under the firm name of W. G. Porter & Company, at the southwest corner of the public square. Upon the death of Mr. Porter, Doctor Smith continued the drug business at 223 South street, under the firm name of J. R. Smith & Company. He enjoyed a large trade, maintained one of the leading drug stores of Springfield and was very successful as a business man. In connection with his business interests he followed his profession and had an extensive practice. Being of a literary turn of mind he has written and published a number of books on varied themes, principally of a religious tone. His writings show a depth of thought, broad culture, a splendid general knowledge and a fine literary finish.

"Doctor Smith was never named by his parents, being known only by a "nickname" until he was eight years of age when he selected his own name. He comes from an excellent old American family. Robert Smith, his grandfather, was born in England, and he served in the Revolutionary war, becoming captain of a company in the Fourth North Carolina regiment. He was a gallant officer and took part in many engagements, including the battle of King's Mountain. After the war he was a merchant and ship builder of note, owning several vessels which operated between North Carolina ports and the West Indies. Nathaniel Geist, the doctor's great-grandfather, first married Mary Howard, of Baltimore, Maryland, and later Dinah Volkeer of Holland. His daughter, Mary Geist, by his first wife, married Robert Smith, our subject's grandfather. Nathaniel Geist served with George Washington in the war with England against France, and he was captured in 1773 at Braddock's famous defeat by the Cherokee Indians, who held him four years. During his captivity be married an Indian maiden and they reared a family. One of their sons, George Geist, was a man of exceptional prowess and ability and the Indians called him Chief Sequoyah, and he was for some time chief of the Cherokee tribe. He has been held in great reverence by the succeeding generation of Cherokees in view of the fact that he originated the Cherokee alphabet."

[note: Dr. Smith, in this account, has confused all three "Nathaniel Gist's". Nathaniel Gist Sr was brother to Christopher. Both Nathaniel Sr and Christopher had sons named Nathaniel. It was Nathaniel Sr. who married Mary Howard. His son, Nathaniel Jr, married Dinah. The daughter of Nathaniel Sr, Mary, married Robert Smith. Through researching this family we KNOW Robert Smith lived in Cumberland County, North Carolina. He even sold land to OUR Nathaniel Gist who also lived in Cumberland County, North Carolina. However Dr. Smith then starts talking about his great grandpa, as serving with George Washington. This was in reality the third "Nathaniel Gist", the son of Christopher. He has confused his actual family with that of another with the same name. Braddock was defeated during the French and Indian War whereas Dr. Smith places this in 1773, just before the Revolution. He does go on to say Nathaniel Gist "married an Indian maiden and they reared a family". He has confused different "Nathaniel Gist's". One more point of GREAT interest is that he suggests that Dr. Smith says is that Nathaniel Gist married an Indian maiden and RAISED A FAMILY with her. Other records suggest Sequoyah's father was with his "Indian maiden" just a few months. Before we are done, you'll see ALL records of Sequoyah's family contradict each other. Until it is solved, this is just one more mystery. All the candidates for Sequoyah's father depend upon flawed stories, or stories that contradict one another. Please note the Doctor's name; John Randolph. Also notice when David Brown married Harriet Guess -- the part of Harriet's father's signature was played by "J. E. Randolph". We know Harriet's mother had the maiden name of "Havens" as did Dr. Smith's paternal grandma, while his great grandma was a "Gist". Somewhere there was a "J. E. Randolph", who was probably also named "John Randolph, who was close to them both.]

"David Smith, father, of our subject, was born in North Carolina. He lived in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky before coming to Missouri in 1836. He was a great cattleman, raising large numbers in the above mentioned states, and in the early days before there were any railroads in the South, he practiced driving immense herds of cattle to Baltimore, Maryland, where he marketed them. Many claim that he originated the familiar term "cowboy." He was left an orphan in infancy, his father and mother both dying at that period of his life. All his life he was a dealer in live stock and was one of the most widely known cattle and horse dealers in his day and generation in the localities where he resided. He was one of the first to import blooded horses, and he raised thoroughbreds for a number of years. He lived to a ripe old age, spending his last years on his large stock farm in Newton county, this state. His family consisted of the following children: Benjamin F. died in infancy; Sarah A. married Thomas Walker, Mary J., who is now eighty-two years of age and has never married, is living at the old homestead, "Kent Park," Newton county, Missouri; Dr. John R., of this sketch; Charlotte E. married James W. Roseberry, now deceased; their son Chalmer H. Roseberry, owns and conducts a large deer farm at "Kent Park," Newton county, and is a member of the Society for the Preservation of Wild Animals of the United States Government. Thomas H. Benton Smith died in 1863 while in the service of the Confederacy, having been with General Rains brigade at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, at the time of his death.

"Dr. John R. Smith owns a gun which was made to order for his father in 1829, by John Bull, a gunsmith of Warrior Mountain, Alabama. It is a fine specimen of guncraft of those days, is mounted with silver and has a gold powder pan and bushings. The stock is of curly maple and the barrel of a very soft iron. It is a remarkably accurate shooting piece and it was designed as a "target" gun for the pioneers. The mounting has several inscriptions on the silver plating. The doctor values this heirloom very highly.

"Doctor Smith was married October 3, 1861, to Frances Ruth Keet, a daughter of Josiah T. and Elizabeth Proctor (West) Keet.

"To Doctor Smith and wife the following children were born: Kenyon Ida died in infancy; Ernest V. is a lieutenant-colonel in the regular army of the United States, now stationed at Honolulu, Sandwich Islands; he is a graduate of West Point Military Academy, which he entered when seventeen years old; he married Cora Young, of Troy, New York. Grace K. Smith became the wife of the late George Cooper, a sketch of whom will be found in another part of this work; Charlotte married Willard P. Paddock, who was for many years a professor in the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, he is now a well known artist, and has made a fine bronze statue of Noah Webster, that was unveiled in September, 1914, in Massachusetts. Mr. and Mrs. Paddock reside in New York City. Clara, youngest of the doctor's children, married Edward Steichen, a well known artist of New York City, where they reside. The mother of these children, to whom they owe so much for their general culture and success in life, is now seventy-one years of age.

"Doctor Smith has been living retired for some time, making his home with his daughter, Mrs. Grace Cooper, at her beautiful home on Cherry street, Springfield. He is now in his seventy-ninth year, but is still comparatively hale and hearty and possesses all his faculties and has a fine memory. For a number of years he was medical examiner of the pension bureau of the United States government. Politically, he is a Democrat. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and belongs to the Christian church. He and his good wife are indeed a grand old couple, greatly beloved by a very wide circle of close friends. They have led useful and helpful lives, being hospitable and charitable by nature, but never from a desire for display rather from an innate love for suffering humanity and to meekly follow in the footsteps of the lowly Nazarene."

So this record represents a problem and a paradox. If we believe  his account, OUR Nathaniel is the father of Sequoyah, and not the son of Christopher. But he mentions Christopher as well as being in his lineage, which is not the case. In researching this family, this is a recurring theme. Many people in our line claim a relationship with Sequoyah yet talk about Christopher, not realizing we are not in his direct line.

In an effort to determine just who was related to whom, many descendants of Alabama Gist's took DNA tests and got out their genealogical trees. It turns out, the Richard Gist, Thomas Gist, Christopher Gist, and my Rachel's family are closely related. All these families lived in North Central Alabama by 1820, as though they descended from the same parents. Furthermore, the DNA of the families that go back to OUR Nathaniel are distinctive from the DNA of the descendants of Christopher. All of these families still have photographs of ancestors who show American Indian characteristics. We are looking for a single mixed-race family of Guess/Gist's. My ancestor says she was born in Tennessee in @ 1817 and her younger brother says he was born in Alabama about 1819. Of this family, Thomas married in Lawrence County, Alabama in 1818, so we know about when they moved from Tennessee to Alabama. But just what part of Tennessee did this mixed race family come from? We will find out shortly. 

The Dorsey's have written the most about these Gist's of Maryland. As for our Nathaniel Jr., b. 1736, they say he had 4 sons -- Nathaniel, George, and said of they other two, John and Aaron, they may have gone to Tennessee. They also say he might have had more children. Per the Dorsey's, Nathaniel moved to Washington County, Virginia about 1770. Today their land is called Coburn in Wise County, Va, but it was originally known as Gist's Station. There is a place called "Gist's Station's Camp" in Southern Kentucky, and it is recorded as having been active about 1775, and probably before that date. This was on Indian lands and is a clear sign that OUR Nathaniel traded with the Indians. However shortly afterwards, the Revolutionary War started, and on October 8th, 1780, Nathaniel was killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

There was a Cherokee attack near the vicinity of  "Gist's Station" in 1777 -- 
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~varussel/other/forts.html  -- where it says --

There was a place called “Gist’s Station” in what is now Wise County, in southwestern Virginia. But in the past it was part of Washington County. The author of the article below didn’t know any Gist’s ever lived in the area – but ours did!


Of all the frontier stations along the Clinch this one presents the greatest enigma. The location is between Big and Little Tom’s Creek, on Guest River at the present site of Coeburn, Wise Co., VA.

 Outside of deed references which mention this station frequently no other direct reference has been found pertaining to it, and no militia correspondence or pensions applications make mention of it. Charles B. Coale, in "Wilburn Waters" tells of the Indians going to this station in 1777, after their capture of Jane Whittaker and Polly Alley, and finding it well defended make no attack upon it. Coale gives no authority for this statement and search for it has proven fruitless. Who built the station and for what purpose is unknown. There are several opinions, but opinions unless backed by factual data should never become a part of written history. This writer does categorically deny that it has any relation with Christopher Gist as has been written, since Gist did not travel through the present bounds of Wise County.

The Dorsey's say OUR Nathaniel Gist founded this fort. And this single account found in "Wilborn Waters" tells a small fact about the place. The Cherokee by-pass the fort and attack the next fort down the road. In the book "Wilburn Waters" suggests the reason the fort was bypassed is because it was too well defended. What if the real reason was, however, they knew a mixed blood Cherokee family lived there? Just a suggestion . . .

Gess’s Station Camp, established by 1775 in Wayne County, KY

Note:  In 1805, Colonel Thomas Young had a survey made to establish the original trace or path from Price’s Landing to the starting corner of  his (Young’s) property.  Ten depositions of early hunters and settlers were introduced to help the surveyor identify the various landmarks referred to through the years.  One of these deponents was Nathaniel Buchannon, who was part of the original company with Benjamin Price on the first trip.

Please note the mention of “Guesses Station Camp”. Notice he mentions Price’s Camp and Gesses Station Camp as though they were contemporary with each other, and he mentions being at Price’s Camp in 1775.

Wayne County, KY Deed Book A, Page 213-216 (LDS Film #590703)

The deposition of Nathaniel Buckhannon of lawful age and first sworn deposeth that some time in the year 1795 this Dept. in company with Benjamin Price & others launched a canoe above the mouth of this Creek to __?__ meadow Creek and cross the river and ever after the place was called and known by the name of Prices landing because Price was considered by us the head of the Company.

Question by Young - - Was there not at that time a trace leading from this place to Prices meadows?

Ans. - - Yes there was and generally travelled at that time

Question by Mills - - Was there not another trace leading from or near Prices landing to the meadows made sometime since your acquaintance with the first trace?

Ans. - - Yes there was

Quest. by same - - By whom was the last trace spoken of made?

Ans. - - By this Dept.  I marked it myself in the year 1779 leading from a Salt Petre Cave between this and the great meadows.  Also to intersect the old trace some distance beyond the top of the River Cleft.

Quest. by same - - After the new trace was marked out by you was discovered was not the old one neglected in a great manner and the new one the most travelled?

Ans. - - Yes because it was then the most plain, our company travelled it the most.

Quest. by same - - Was there any company in the these woods at that time besides yours?

Ans. - - I do not know of any who were hunting in these woods but ours at that time but Mr. Michael Stoner, Green & others came to be at the great meadows.

Question by same - - How long after marking the new trace spoken of did your company travel it before your departure from the meadows?

Ans. - - From February until the July following

Ques. by same - - What was your Companies motive for preferring the travelling the new trace to the old one?

Ans. - - Because we thought it was nearest from the landing to the meadows and because we had encamped in the salt petre cave six or eight weeks and by that means the new trace became more plain than the old one.

Question by Young - - Was there not another trace besides the two above spoken of leading from Cumberland River to Prices Meadows?

Yes, from Gesses Station Camp  near the big Cotton to Prices meadows.

Ques. by Mills - - How far was Gesses Station Camp from the mouth of Pitmans Creek?

Answer - - Opposite on the contrary side of the River.

Question by Young - - Was not the trace last spoken of very much travelled?

Ans. - - It was our general crossing place when we came to or returned from Prices meadows.

Question by same - - Was not the trace leading by the salt petre cave generally called the salt petre cave trace?

Ans. - - Yes it was.

Quest. by same - - By whom was it called the salt petre cave trace?

Ans. - - Our Company called it the trace leading by the salt petre cave.

Question by Young - - Are you certain the trace you shewed the Surveyor this morning is Prices Old Trace leading from the landing to his improvement?

Ans. - - I am certain it is a s far as from the River to the Rush Glade and divers places this side of that.

Question by same - - Are you certain this spot is Prices old improvement?

Ans. - - I was here with Price in 1775 and assisted in building this Cabin and the Glade facing the Camp nearly a North Eastwardly course was at that time bare of timber and not more than 70 or 80 yards from the Camp and the meadow ground as this Dept. thinks extended  somewhere about a quarter and half a quarter of a mile across.

Question by same - - Was there not a pond somewhere not far from here?

Ans. - - There was.

Question by same - - What was the name of that pond & what course was it from here?

Ans. - - a Northwardly course.

Quest. - - What size was that pond?

Ans. - - a very large one an hundred yards or thereabouts across and am not certain as to its length. 
And further the Dept. Saith Not.

Nathaniel Buckhannon

So we have Gist's Station in what is now Wise County, Virginia. And we have a Gist's Station Camp in what is now Wayne County, Kentucky.

We have a Gist’s Station in Wise County, Virginia in the same location as the small town of Coburn, today. And we have a place once called “Gist’s Station’s Camp” at least as far back as 1775. By the proclamation of 1763, this was on known Cherokee lands, and was used as their hunting grounds at the time. With this Camp clearly on Indian lands, we can infer that OUR Nathaniel Gist, not the other one, traded with the Indians. One can assume that from Gist’s Station’s Camp, items the Indians needed were traded for furs that the Indians had. These were then taken to Gist’s Station.  Since he was killed in 1780 at The Battle of Kings Mountain, his trading business didn’t last very long, and his presence in the area was forgotten.

No one knows when Sequoyah was born. Estimates range from 1760 (because that's when the other Nathaniel Gist was first with the Cherokee) to 1777 when that same Nathaniel left the Cherokee for the last time. They say Sequoyah's father abandoned him and his Cherokee family. But here is something to ponder. what if instead, he was no longer alive?

We know my family was in Tennessee before going to Alabama about 1817 or 1818. We have heard the Dorsey's say John and Aaron Gist appear to have gone to Tennessee, no date listed.

But first, I need to discuss our research methods. I received a great deal of help from Don Sticher. He and I had emailed one another for years. I had been looking for a link to Sequoyah because of all the family stories, the DNA test that said I was of mixed race heritage, et cetera. I'd relay to him a Guess/Guest/Gist/Guist/Gess family I was looking into, and he'd follow up with records of their daughters looking for Harriet's parents. but all the daughters of which would be accounted for. This was a long and tedious process. We went over every such family in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Texas, Arkasnas, Mississippi, and on and on. Don and I had been researching for a couple of years when we ran into Jim Sanders. I always treated Jim like a brother. In the introduction to my book I acknowledged him as a fellow researcher.

And his research was very helpful. He discovered A book, "Land of the Lake" written by a Mr. Ridenour. In it, there was mention of a John Gist who was said to have had a White father and an Indian mother. It also said he was some kin of Sequoyah's. My only thought was "FINALLY"! A "Gist/Guess" family was found in East Tennessee where my family had last been found, and it was of mixed racial heritage, just like mine! I spent quite some time searching the source of Mr. Ridenour's information. In genealogical research, you always search for primary sources. However they provided none. I purchased my own copy of the book, and in the last printing his grand daughter spoke of this in her introduction. She said much information died with him. This was discouraging. But I kept looking. In a tax record taken by Jason Cloud, I believe the year was 1800 or 1802 -- somewhere long in there -- both the names of John Gist and a pair of Ridenour's were listed, meaning these families were neighbors. So the source of his information was from his own ancestors who must have called these Gist's an Indian family.

Unfortunately, this family faced a tragedy. There was an Aaron Gist in the household. I have thought he was a son of John.  Aaron had been caught stealing a horse and was tried, and hung in 1801 in Knox County, Tennessee. Lo and behold, there is a tax list of part of Knox County, Tn that has the names of both James Havens and  John Guess on it, dated 1804. The two were very close neighbors in 1804 in Knox County, the same county where Aaron was hung. We know James Havens wound up in Lawrence County, Alabama. Perhaps the children of mixed blood John Guess did, too.  Here is that 1804 record showing them both James Havens living next to John Guist along Beaver Creek.


Remember I mentioned Jason Cloud a couple of paragraphs back? Well, Jason. Well I'm going to mention him again. Per "Land of the Lake", he was a flat boat builder and captain. Ridenour said he built a retaining wall at a place called "The Suck". Mixed blood Cherokee John Brown  was called the best ferry boat captain across the Tennessee River at a place called "Brown's Ferry" in what is now Chattanooga, Tennessee. Brown was said to be the best navigator around "The Suck". Cloud had to know him. What else do we know about Jason Cloud? Well, he along with John Guess/Gist was made executor of the estate of Aaron Gist/Guess. Indians often had to have White's names on documents in those days as they were considered incompetent. So Jason Cloud knew both Cherokee John Brown and Cherokee John Guess/Gist very well.

There was another Guess/Gist family in Southern Kentucky. Ours went to Alabama by 1818 and this second one arrived in Alabama a couple of decades later. There is no record saying they were Indian as there is with the descendants of John, but they might have been. Nathaniel, like many of that era, might have had both a White and an Indian family.

Another Possibility
There is another possible explanation as to the Indian blood flowing through the blood of the descendants of our Nathaniel Gist. He has been shown to have lived in Cumberland County, North Carolina, for much of his life. Cumberland County is just to the North of Robison County. Robison County is the home of what was once called “The Cherokees of Robison County”. However they were NEVER Cherokee. They’ve been called Siouans of Robison County. Today they are the “Lumbee Indians” because they live near the Lumber River. Here are some good books on the topic; “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South” by  Malinda Maynor Lowery, “The Lumbee Problem” by Karen I. Blu, “The Indian Slave Trade”, by Allan Gallay, and “The History of the Old Cheraws”, by Alexander Gregg. These all tell of American Indians living near where the Lumbee Tribe of Indians live today. They might be descendants of many tribes that simply faded away, either through the slave trade, war, disease, or assimilation. The two leading contenders seem to be the Cheraw or Pedee Indians. Some people believe they are the same people, just called by different names in different periods of history. Other’s believe some of them are from the remnant group of the Tuscarora who remained in North Carolina. The Cheraw and Pedee were Siouan speaking people who were really a band of the Catawba. The Catawba speak a Siouan Language. Attempts to call them “Cherokee” were simply misplaced and inaccurate. The Cherokee, in known historic times, never lived that close to the Atlantic Ocean.

When OUR Nathaniel Gist moved away from Cumberland County, he moved to what is now called Wise County, Virginia, in the Southeastern corner of Virginia. In fact he lived very close to what became “Fort Blackmore”. He had land transactions with one of the Blackmore brothers. It has been written of Fort Blackmore that it was built by the “Whites and friendly Indians”. Those “friendly Indians” are now known to have been the people now called the “Melungeons” – mixed race peoples, like the Lumbee Indians. They can be traced back to Fort Christanna where the Saponi Indians were sent by Colonial Governor Spotswood of Virginia. They, too, were a Catawban band. The Dorsey’s wrote, and historic documents support this, that OUR Nathaniel Gist moved to Southwestern Virginia. They mention a son John who moved to Tennessee. When Mr. Ridenour wrote of John Gist and his son Aaron, saying their mother was “Indian” and their father an Indian trader (and we have shown where he was) – what if that “Indian  wife” was Catawban rather than Cherokee? Mr. Ridenour just assumed Cherokee ancestry. He “might have” assumed they were related to Sequoyah as he was born in East Tennessee, had was known to have had a father surnamed “Gist”. It is possible that a Catawban family moved down into Northern Alabama. PLEASE don’t misrepresent what I have said. I have said Our Nathaniel could have been Sequoyah’s father. In that case, his son John would have been an unknown brother to Sequoyah, and our Harriet would have been Sequoyah’s “niece or great niece” just as my aunt said. It is possible I suppose, that John was his half-Catawba father even, making the story told by the Cherokee Phoenix true, implying that his father might have been a half-blood! Our Nathaniel was born 1736. He “could have” had a son born 1756 (John) who “could have” had a son born @ 1778.  All I am saying is that the truth about Sequoyah’s father IS UNKNOWN! PERIOD! NOONE knows the identity of Sequoyah's father. It is STILL a mystery.
The truth is there is a lot we don’t know and CAN NOT know!


We have now gone full circle with our family. I have shown evidence our Nathaniel "might have been" Sequoyah's relatives. I have just quickly written this up. I need to reread it to make sure what I have said makes sense. It is common for me to write and leave out words or say things that can be taken more than one way. I'll reread it, probably provide a few images, et cetera, or source material citations.
Afterwards, I'll go over other material about Sequoyah's father. West, Foster, and Foreman wrote about him. Two accounts of his lineage were written during his life time, and some of his children or descendants also wrote a few things down.
There are a lot of contradictions. In Cherokee Phoenix it was written that his paternal grandfather was a white man, implying his father was half-Indian. Well that sure leaves out the FAMOUS Nathaniel Gist, doesn't it? In a similar record it also says his mother was "a fullblood". So much for those people who say his mother Wu-tee-hee was a "Watts" then, huh? Sequoyah and Tah-chee were said to be brothers, but Sequoyah was Paint Clan and Tah-chee (also known as Capt. Wm. Dutch) was Long Hair Clan. They couldn't have had the same mother. Did they instead have the same father? Confusing, isn't it? That's why I prefer "The Mysteries of Sequoyah" by Dub West -- and the book Dad bought in 1776 from the author himself. I KNOW the difference between EVIDENCE and PROOF of a thing, and I know it VERY WELL. All I do is provide evidence, not proof. Some people have misquoted me, or said I made claims that I never made, et cetera. People who know me know I am very FACT oriented. that is the only reason I am writing all of this down -- to set the record straight.


  1. The only thing you are setting straight was our suspicion that you are mentally ill.

  2. Hi. I believe we may be related after reading your story