Reader Warning

This blog is for serious open-minded readers who are interested in documenting their Native American ancestry. Most of the articles challenge the internet genealogy of mythical Native American ancestry. If you have already made up your mind and if you can't handle an opinion other than your own, THIS IS NOT THE BLOG FOR YOU. Comments will be restricted to intelligent questions and concerns.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lucy Ward, The Wild Rose of Cherokee

In 1895 E. Sterling King penned a booklet by the lengthy name of, The Wild Rose of Cherokee, Or, Nancy Ward, "The Pocahontas of the West": A Story of the Early Exploration, Occupancy and Settlement of the State of Tennessee : a Romance, Founded on and Interwoven with History. [1]  The book today seems archaic, written in a flowery language. It is also racially insensitive. In this story of Nancy Ward, a heroic Cherokee woman. She is a slender, nymph-like beauty, but this is not the result of her Native American ancestry, but because  'heaven blessed her with an over portion of her mother's saxon blood.' She does not have the 'large square face' of the typical Cherokee woman, she has only the tiniest bit of Cherokee blood, which gives her a pretty complexion, a 'rose-like' tint. 

Nancy who at one point in the story is about to be killed by her brother, scoffs at her attackers and declares that she is the daughter of the 'White Lilly' and Oconostota, the great Cheeratahge of the Cherokee. King writes that the mother of Nancy Ward (the White Lilly) was an English woman by the name of Lucy Ward, daughter of Edmund Ward. Her father, Oconostota traveled to London with Sir Alexander Cummings in 1730 to meet the King. He was then fifty years old and widowed. Lucy, falls immediately in love with the Noble Savage Oconostota who returns her love with all his 'wild passionate soul'. (stopping to gag) 

The pair was married in Westminster Abbey, with the full blessing of King George. In broken English the wild man says his vow to his White Lilly. Lady Lucy returns with him to Chota where she is soon showing those Cherokee women a thing or two about interior decorating, her house rapidly becomes 'the pride of the nation'. With her bible in hand she sets out to teach the 'rude' people of her husbands tribe. She was the ruler of her husband and darling of the Cherokee savages whom she ruled with love and kindness. She seems to have only had the one child, Nancy Ward, she has already died when the story of Nancy begins in King's book. 

So was Lucy Ward a real woman? Is any of this true? Does anyone believe it's true? The short answers to these questions are no, no and yes. 

In the story Oconostota is fifty years old when he travels to London in 1730. There are two problems with this: Oconostota was born around 1710 and he never went to London. [2] In the scant writings about the man, his family is almost never mentioned, no wife is ever named. Nancy Ward was not his daughter, neither was Raven his son. 

The fact that this claim is easily disproved has not stopped folks from believing the story. Even the ridiculous Don Greene has included it in his 'Every Native is a Shawnee' books. Just the fact that it's in his book should be a clue that it's not true. 

The King book should be seen for what it is, a window into the racist views of turn of the century Americans who believed that the only good Indian was one with a preponderance of Anglo-Saxon blood, that all Native males were brutes and savages, in need of a sweet white gal to tame their base instincts. There is nothing romantic about this story which holds no  genealogical value. 


[1] E. Sterling King, "The Wild Rose of Cherokee, Or, Nancy Ward, "The Pocahontas of the West": A Story of the Early Exploration, Occupancy and Settlement of the State of Tennessee : a Romance, Founded on and Interwoven with History American Fiction, 1774-1920," Wright American Fiction, Vol. 3, The Ohio State University, University Press, 1895.

[2] Kelly, James C. “Oconostota” in Journal of Cherokee Studies, Fall, 1978 pp. 221; Hoig, Stanley, The Cherokees and Their Chiefs. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 1998

Friday, October 26, 2018

Peregrine Smith: Son of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith?

A recently comment on my blog left me scratching my head. The writer asked if I had heard the story of Peregrine Smith, son of Pocahontas and John Smith. Well, no I hadn't, but I was sure  quick to look it up. Oh, boy, here we go again. Here's what I found out about Peregrine Smith.

In a March 2001 reply to a 1998 post about the Hyatt family, a writer made reference to a 1954  family history book which said that they Hiatts/Hyatts  that descended from a Peregrine Smith who was the son of Pocahontas and John Smith. Peregrine was born in Jamestown. [1] This is the farthest back I can find an internet reference to Peregrine Smith and most accounts of him seem to be in relation to the Hyatt Family, specifically a Hyatt/Smith marriage which resulted in a child William Smith.

I am happy to see that most of the big genealogy sites, Wikitree, and WeRelate have all either written it off as a myth or added a lot of red flags to alert readers to beware. It is mostly on message boards and individual websites that I found actual claims to be descended from Peregrine Smith. Here is a quote from one message board (spelling and grammar as found):
There are varying accounts historically of what happened with and between John Smith (Smyth) and Pocahontas. It depends on who's "version" of history you believe. There is evidence of Peregrin Smith born in Jamestown in 1608 at which time Pocahontas would have been 13 or 14 - certainly of child bearing age. There is too much evidence otherwise to dismiss these historical traditions. 

Dr. Joseph Copeland
This man seems to be the first name associated in a public forum with the Peregrine Smith story. He  published in some format his genealogy and descent from William Smith who he says is the son of John Smith and Pocahontas. This is part of his ancestry as given on Larry Anderson's Hyatt website [2]:

b. ca 1637 b. ca 1617 parentage unknown
Named after Peregrine Bertie,
son of Lord Bertie. *Said to have
had a sister, Mary.
4. William Smith m. GRACE JOHN HIATT m. MARGARET
b. 1643 b. ca 1646 b. ca 1650 b. ca 1652
Parentage Parentage
Unknown Unknown
b. ca 1675 b. ca 1674
Imm. Quaker Imm. Quaker

Dr. Copeland has passed away. One website, which includes references to him, states that he said the Peregrine Smith story was told to him by his aunt and that it was an unproven tradition. 

In the above quote, the writer states, "there is too much evidence otherwise to dismiss these historical traditions." What is this evidence of which the writer speaks?   Marriage, death, baptismal, land, or tax records would constitute evidence, as would a mention in contemporary writings, such as histories, biographies. Equally acceptable would be or criminal or civil court cases in which the person was named, or religious records, such as those keep by Quaker Societies. Anything, but, there is nothing, that would stand as evidence that could prove that John Smith and Pocahontas has a child named Peregrine Smith, either in England or in Virginia. 

The following webpage lays out both a lengthy argument for the possibility that Pocahontas and John Smith could have had a child (but no proof of the child itself, only its possibility) but there is so much twisting and turning and lots of ifs. If Pocahontas was really older, if the mysterious children of Powhatan are really the children of Pocahontas, if the Sedgeford Hall portrait was Pocahontas and Peregrine (it's not it's a painting of Osceola and his mother) if  this and if that. Just my opinion, but if you need multiple if this than thats, then you're likely barking up the wrong tree.