Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why Native American ancestors had European sounding names -3-

Names Chosen at random –

A Scottish woman named Taylor married an Englishman named Fox. The mother remarried a Conrad from Holland and migrated to the Cherokee Nation. One of their sons Hamilton Conrad married a Cherokee woman named Onai and had several children named ‘Rattling Gourd’, ‘Hair’, ‘Young Wolf’, and ‘Terrapin Head’. Descendants of these men retained their father’s Indian names as their family names.

"The Goose" was half Cherokee and half Spanish. He was called "Dick Spaniard" until he enlisted in the Confederacy and changed it to the Christian name of Johnson.

Government record keeping

In most cases, a person had to have a direct ancestor on the previous Roll in order to be ‘qualified’ to apply for the current Roll. By 1850 the government bean-counters had such a problem identifying Indians from one Roll to the next, they began assigning European names to individuals. The Heads-of-House were allowed to choose the name of their most recent European ancestor, a family benefactor, an English translation of their Indian name, or have one picked at random by the census takers. The US Department of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) is still using this process today, especially if a name is difficult to spell.

Other early researchers have been able to identify some of the name changes by tracing the family back to a previous Treaty Roll where their Indian name was used. The main reason for this is a genealogy trace is nearly impossible with a random name change with little or no documentation.

Slaves and FreedMen

Many of the wealthy Indians kept slaves and adopted Free Men of Color into their Tribe. The custom at the time was for a slave or FreeMan with no family name to be assigned the family name of the person who owned the property where they were living. As slaves were bought and sold, their family names would change to the new owner’s.

Indians took captives whenever they made a raid on another village or settlement. Before the whites arrived, Indians took other Indians captive and made them into slaves. Most Eastern Indians allowed the slaves to be freed if they learned the language and customs were a ‘good citizen’ and followed the established code of conduct. When they were adopted, they were given a new Indian name, a rifle, and allowed to marry an Indian. The Cherokees made little distinction based on a persons color, you were Full Blood, Mixed Blood or White.

Missionary influence

When white missionaries moved into the various Indian Nations, they generally took Indian wives. When an Indian was baptized, they were given the name of a church sponsor who had made a large donation to the Foreign Mission. Church supporters in New England would make donations for the education of promising or exceptionally bright youngsters.

Indian children were educated in reading, writing, simple arithmetic, with a heavy dose of English and Bible study. Those that held promise of being a good preacher, were then sent to New England for further study. The Moravian Missionaries sent these Indian children to Cornwall, Massachusetts, where their church headquarters was located. Most Cherokee families refused to allow their children to travel that far away from home, and were fearful that the child would become less Indian by being exposed to white society.

During the term of a preachers stay in the Indian Nations, there were a large number of children born that carried either the preachers first name or his family name. It is difficult to determine if these children were his, or the family named these children because the preacher impressed them so much.