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5/128. A number that is highly significant to me. It's the amount of government recognized Chickasaw blood I have in my body (I have more, but only one roll number is allowed). Granted, it's not much, but that blood carries a lot of pride.

At the age of eighteen, I started to become interested in family genealogy, particularly because my mother told me we were related to the man, for which the town we reside in, is named for. It also helped that his last name was Colbert, one of the most important Chickasaw families in the eighteenth century. Once I had the last name, I knew it wouldn't be hard to find my ancestors. And boy, did I ever!

The story starts with James Logan Colbert, a Scottish trader who married into the Chickasaw tribe. With various wives, he had nine children, including four sons who served alongside many of our Nation's earliest war heroes. They are William, Samuel, James, and Levi Colbert (pictured below).

As if that wasn't cool enough already, I then discovered my direct ancestor, General William "Chooshemataha" Colbert , a celebrated fighter of the Chickasaw tribe, and an ally to the Americans. As I continued to read, I found more ancestors. He had a daughter, Molly Colbert, who is my grandmother, six times removed.

After finding Molly, I then found another grandmother, Rhoda Gunn (pictured below), five times removed. In some of the older books I have regarding the Chickasaws, she was considered a Chickasaw princess, and according to some traders, "one of the most beautiful women they had ever saw."

She would have a son, Judge John Taylor Potts (pictured below), who served as a county judge before Oklahoma became a state. The generations would eventually get to me, but I don't want to bore you with the rest.

As you are aware, good news comes with bad news, and it was certainly bad after I discovered that the cemetery in which John Taylor and Rhoda, among others, are buried in, was now a cow pasture just east of my current residence. I decided to visit a few years ago, and I was emotionally crushed. The tombstones looked like they had been hit with a few hammers, most likely a group of people trying to have fun. Thankfully, a fence has been built around this area, and no more damage can be done.

To be honest, I'm not sure what prompted me to write this, other than the fact that I'm proud to have discovered my Native American heritage. As I stated above, the pride I have in such a small amount of blood is very overwhelming. I am a Chickasaw, and for that, I'm honored.

Levi Colbert

Rhoda Gunn Potts

Rhoda with her husband, Joseph. Did they not have combs for men? And I believe it's the same picture as above, but they cropped him out.

Judge John Taylor Potts

Originally posted to Chance on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 07:24 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community, History for Kossacks, Native American Netroots, Pink Clubhouse, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  republished to the (15+ / 0-)

    Genealogy & Family History Group, for obvious reasons. ;)

    Very interesting story ... and how sad about the old cemetery. I'm glad that the graves are now fenced in, even if it is too late as far as some of the damage is concerned. Do you know if the damage is "modern" ... WPA crews were busy during the New Deal years recording information on old tombstones and cemeteries ... is there a chance they recorded information before it was too late?

    Love the pictures, but I would have to disagree with the caption on Rhoda's picture...she is still a beautiful and strong woman in that image.

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 07:45:34 PM PDT

    •  Thank you! (8+ / 0-)

      I certainly agree that she was still beautiful. I believe that is a pencil drawing, but I may be wrong. It was featured in a western magazine in the late 1800s.

      As for the cemetery, it is actually located in a very rural area of Oklahoma. It's located down a dirt road, and up until the 1940s, this cemetery was in my great-grandmother's possession, but during the Depression, she had to sell it. There's also a creek that runs through the cemetery, so I think run off could have caused some of the damage.

      •  Interesting ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, rebel ga, ladybug53, ER Doc

        a good many illustrations in 19th century periodicals were drawings/etchings based on photos (at least until printing technology came along to allow photos to be reproduced on the the presses).

        The human toll of the Depression and dustbowl years on states like Oklahoma really lasted a long time. My g-grandfather had an older brother that moved his family from Wisconsin to Logan Co, Oklahoma in the late 1880s -- the brother died in about 1891, and I've traced his descendants to about 1920...but I really despair after that. The trail goes very cold in a hurry.

        I think it is wonderful you can find the land your family had ... there is something about being in the spot they stood in.

        "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

        by klompendanser on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 08:38:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I Just Sent You This chancew (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chancew, Onomastic, Temmoku, kaliope

        Maybe other people could use this advice also, so I'm pasting it here too.

        I'm Reading Your Tue Jul 10, 2012 I need advice Diary,

        I have advice. Why not a double major? A major is only about 36 credits.

        Physician's assistant program?

        But you like Political Science and need Business to be able to survive financially.

        Double major, Political Science and Business. It's not that much work. You need a certain amount of electives to graduate anyway. You must have just finished your required classes.

        BA Sociology. I have many minors and quite a few major credits too, besides.

        Specialize, in what you like and need. Spend your class time learning what you want. U.S. Department of Education Online Services

        Student Loans ie Repayment, Forgiveness and more info. Frequently Asked Questions

        U.S. Department of Education Grants

        Preparing For Grad School

        Top Sources Of Money For College Taken from, How to Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

        Edited and updated for over a year. All my blog pages are updated. Hope this helps. Double Major And Grad School!

        Welcome to DKos chancew. You're a great writer too!

        I'm going back to finish your Tracing my Native American ancestry diary. I rec'd and tipped it.

        Native American Spiritual Music
        Ceremony to Mother Earth

        Save Pe Sla Mon Aug 20, 2012 Sioux try to save sacred site in Black Hills from the auction block and developers who will follow. by Meteor Blades


        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 06:07:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary and (8+ / 0-)

    how incredible you were able to find the drawing of Rhoda.  
    I agree with klompy's comment above-  you can feel the strength and self-confidence radiating from her, and that's beautiful.

    I've had such problems tracking down my husband's Native American lineage (Lumbee of North Carolina), but because that happened during the time of slavery (my husband is African-American), I haven't been able to locate any records.

    I'm not very hopeful of finding anything, but if I do put in a bigger effort, it'll have to wait until I'm retired and have the time to travel to North Carolina for a long stay while I do the research.

    •  Good luck! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edwardssl, rebel ga, ozsea1, Temmoku, ER Doc

      I wish you the absolute best!

      Unfortunately, my ancestors listed above owned quite a few slaves, but they were treated exceptionally well. My great aunt told me that John Taylor actually paid for his slaves to go to boarding school with his daughters (my g-grandmother), and there's reports in the Chickasaw archives from former slaves who said they were treated quite well. Slavery is slavery, but I think Native Americans held slaves in very high regard, and vice-versa. There's still a black family in this area who have a Chickasaw last name, and I believe they have the same Native American rights as I do, as they should.

  •  Very cool stuff (6+ / 0-)

    It's awesome you were able to uncover all of this.

    I know I have Native American blood (from my father's side). Unfortunately, that's about the extent of my knowledge. I should really do the research.

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 08:14:38 PM PDT

  •  I used to work with a guy named Chance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    klompendanser, rebel ga, Temmoku

    in OKC years ago.

    What are the chances of that?

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 08:38:15 PM PDT

  •  My great aunt.... (9+ / 0-)

    This is Rhoda's older sister, Sarah. She was 114 when she died. They are buried next to each other.

  •  Thanks for this. Over the last years, I found (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, chancew, Temmoku

    my mom's father was part Osage, so I am as well, at least a tiny part.

     Her family came to this country in the 1630's and bought land from William Penn's sons. Some of them roamed over the years all over the country, and married into the Osage nation at one point.
     I found that several officials of the Osage Nation today share my Grandfather's last name. I started to look into the connection, but life intervened.
    I will soon continue to search, however...It has become important to me to know and understand.

    Thanks for this post.


    Retired AFSCME Steward and licensed gun carrying progressive veteran.

    by old mark on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 02:50:53 AM PDT

    •  As Soon As You Said William Penn; (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chancew, Temmoku

      I knew, you'd like this diary Old Mark!

      For My Neighbor Pennsylvania, All My Friends In NJ, NY And Everywhere.

      Protest the future that big gas, oil, coal, etc, have planned for us. We've already had enough of their destruction in the past! Mountaintop Removal, Strip And Longwall Mining, Gas Fracking, An American Tragedy!

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 06:50:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  re "old mark" about the Osage Nation (0+ / 0-)

        The Osage Nation has a tribal museum in Pawhuska, OK. In one room they have LOTS of pics. There were like 2300 Osages that had original headrights. These pics are solely from this group of original headright allottees. They have between 1/2 to 3/4 of ALL these allottee members pictures in this room. You should VERY WELL call this museum and have them look up what they have. I was there 3 weeks ago and I was amazed!!

      •  I will contact them again.. (0+ / 0-)

        I do have a form from them that will determine my Osage ancestry and my "degree" of being NDN...but things intervened this last year or so, and I never completed it .

        I have to dig through my rubble and find it.

        Thanks. They are very good people there.


        Retired AFSCME Steward and licensed gun carrying progressive veteran.

        by old mark on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:56:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I had always assumed my own rumored (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, ozsea1, Onomastic, ladybug53, Temmoku

    family Cherokee connection was apocryphal, but I actually recently came across what look to be three relatives applying for recognition based upon something called the 'Guion Miller Roll'.  I'm not familiar with it myself, but I vaguely assume it's similar to the Dawes Roll, maybe.

  •  I'm, um, 1/16 Blackfeet (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, chancew, ladybug53, Temmoku

    Don't know what that means but, considering I was born in 1961, the tribe sends me a $50 check every year.

    I used to live in Pagosa Springs, CO but I moved to Phoenix... for the past year, I've made the trip down US 160 through "The Rez" and I have to say -- we FUCKED the NAs in this country. Shit land. You can't do much on rocks except build casinos.

    When nothing is sure, everything is possible. - Margaret Drabble

    by ninothemindboggler on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:42:06 AM PDT

  •  Traced mine back as far as possible (8+ / 0-)

    I'm 1/8 Cherokee, my great-grandfather and great-grandmother both being full-blooded. My problem is that they settled in Kentucky, very close to where I live right now, within 5 miles. But the Kentucky Cherokee we never put on any rolls and there are no documents before my great-grandfather. It would be nice to be recognized as a Cherokee, but I can't find the needed data. I don't want anything - like a check every month or a casino license, but it would be great to know more about my heritage and to be able to spend some time with the descendents of my kin's kin, and learn so much more. I took Native American Literature a couple of years ago when I went back to school at age 50, and it was my favorite class. We'd have assignments for 2 pages of a summary of a story and mine were always 5-6 pages because the writing spoke to me so deeply, almost on a spiritual level.

    Peace ☮

  •  I've got to do research too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've got Cherokee ancestry...used to think it was all just a story, but I looked up the names and the names actually existed in the rolls!!!! So now I've got a reason to really investigate the stories my Grandmother told!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 05:43:12 PM PDT

  •  Does anyone have advice? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My son is the one who has asked repeatedly for verification of my mother-in-law's ancestry, but we have not clue where to tell him to start.  There was such a mystery, she was raised by someone who my husband says wasn't even related to her.  The family members would make the statement throughout our married life about her being part native American, and at this point my husband is the  last surviving member of his generation.  All 3 brothers and his sister are dead now.  He is going to be 73 this year, but I don't know what to tell our son to do to find out.  Her maiden name of Hepler would be no help in this situation.  My memory is so hazy about what we heard throughout the years as well.  If someone can give us a clue what our son could do it could be a start.  We live in Michigan and she was raised here but it was north of Detroit and I would have to do some hunting to see if I still have some of the information.  Probably hopeless.

    •  I will give it a try! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      First, props to your son for trying to understand his heritage!

      Second, does your husband have your mother-in-law's birth certificate? If so, that will be a big help to your son. It is also helpful to know where she was born and grew up. That will help him narrow it down quite a bit.

      Once that is done, he can go to, and they have many good resources, but you have to pay a fee to view most of the information.

      I'm not an expert genealogist, but I hope this helps!

      •  I have to do some digging (0+ / 0-)

        I passed some things on to my husband's niece since her father was killed in Viet Nam a couple years after we were married, and we just heard from her a few years back.  I had been holding the newspaper articles and important information about her father.  I am not sure what I may still have.  But I will look and give our son the information about  We are not sure of the percentage, but he was hoping he could possibly qualify for some help for some college courses.  Plus him and his girlfriend (almost wife) are totally into this type of thing.  Thank you, and thank your for posting this diary.

  •  Good luck.. but what do you think it will mean? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ethnicity.. who you 'really are' is difficult for a lot of non-mainstream types..  

    And, of course the Native community is of many minds about 'White folks claiming Indian ancestry' ... I mean to be fair, we hear it all the time, when people are asking us about our hair / if we're 'really Indian,' ... when strangers ask us 'what tribe are you?" when we stand in line at the grocery store.

    Many White Caucasian folks literally use 'their great - great Cherokee aunt' as an introduction to talking to us.. completely out of the blue, sometimes.

    I understand why this happens, now.  I feel a lot of sympathy ... I myself, feel it is a journey people go through.  BUT  .... It isn't the same thing as 'growing up in poverty on a reservation' ... or suffering the cognitive dissonance, outright prejudice, or the weight of history on one's shoulders... "Hey, so that t-shirt with Geronimo's picture on it is so cool, isn't it?"   Yes, it is...

    But the funny looks and pointed questions from other Natives, shouldn't stop you here.

      Think about it.....  Native history has been so very, very suppressed, for so very long... and it continues to be suppressed, and subjected to outrageous court decisions....  Who knows anymore WHO has 'identifiable Indian roots?"  

    All I can say is, get close to your tribal roots.  Then, get close as you can to your tribe, and help them out.   That's what matters, not what your 'blood quantum' or book-related genealogy says.. What matters is how you can be the best advocate for Indians and Indian rights as you can be.

    "If the Nuremberg laws were applied, every post WWII US President would have been hanged." =Chomsky

    by abenjaminc on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:07:29 PM PDT

  •  Not much? Try 1/8192 degree blood quantum... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chancew, kaliope

    ...linear but non-enrolled descent Narragansett.

    Took a lot of genealogical research for this nugget to pop-up 13 generations ago. It was almost as surprising as finding I am also a direct descendant of Martin Luther's brother.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:13:35 PM PDT

  •  Anybody have any guidance (0+ / 0-)

    on HOW to trace Native ancestry?

    I've always heard that my maternal grandfather "had a lot of Indian blood."

    I started tracing my family back in '88, but then took a long break until last winter (Internet is an awesome tool!)

    I have quite a lot of fascinating info on most of Mom's side, but I keep running into a huge info wall after a 2x great grandfather. He and his first wife were from Delaware County New York. Because of the location, I assumed this "Indian blood" might have been Oneida or Onandaga. I contacted both nations and never got a response.

    I assume that he at least was born there. But his name was Smith (groan), and there were tons of Smiths in that area. I can't seem to locate any verifiable info on his parents, nor can I find him or his wife on any census record. I know they lived there because I did find a marriage announcement for them.

    Any tips or tricks on going further?

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:26:51 AM PDT

  •  A beautiful Thread Chancew, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and a beautful name you have. But what is not beautiful of our ancestors like yours -- and mine. The real Native Americans.

    I want to apologize for my recent absence. I have not been all that well, but I would not miss this comment.

    As always, you captivated me with your narration of who you are, and where you come from.

    Beautifully done Klompendanser. Thanks for sharing this

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 02:46:12 PM PDT

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