BEGINNING YOUR CHEROKEE RESEARCH
by Jerry Wright Jordan

(C)1998 by Jerry Wright Jordan

Many families have vague traditions of an ancestor being Cherokee. That great great grandfather or grandmother generally is several generations back.  

Some families know the name of that individual and the tradition may say that "grandma/ grandpa" was either a "full-blood," "1/2," or even "1/4" Cherokee.  

You think that with this much information you can find your Cherokee "princess" or "chief."

"YOU'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN. . ."

PATIENCE!! Remember, you have to do this:

crawling babyBefore you can do this:

walking baby

[Couldn't resist the temptation, after all the cliche is very appropriate in Native American Research - Jerry]

Now that you have had your FIRST lesson and realize that you have to crawl first, read all the following instructions. You will get to the Cherokee records but first there are basic procedures you MUST follow.  No matter how anxious you are,

YOU HAVE TO DO YOU HOMEWORK!
(You remember homework, don't you?)

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Let's begin with some questions you need to ask yourself:

To help you to determine if you have found all the records you will need I have created what I call a Survey Sheet .

I think the following comments from people who are trying to find their Cherokee ancestor will best explain:

Sound familiar? Who was this aunt or this great uncle? They were siblings of one of your ancestors. Right?

KNOW WHO ALL THE CHILDREN WERE!
Who they married and who their children were
YOU WILL NEED THAT INFORMATION!

Why the Federal Census Records?

The census records, particularly 1900-1920 censuses, will help you learn more about your family. You'll learn:

Now, if you have completed all of the above and know as much as possible about your family back to 1900 you are ready to proceed.

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WHICH CHEROKEE RECORDS?

To become enrolled as a Cherokee today you must find a direct ancestor on either the Dawes Roll or the Guion Miller Roll of Eastern Cherokees. Examining both of these rolls is a pre-requisite for all subsequent research.

So What is a "Roll?"

A 'bare bones' explanation is that a Cherokee Roll is a 'census' record.  Just like the Federal census records which have been taken every ten years since 1790. BUT, the Cherokee Rolls are only for Cherokees, while some of the later rolls do have Shawnees and Delawares listed because both tribes were associated with the Cherokee in Indian Territory.

The first "official" rolls were in 1817 and there were two of them - the Reservation Roll and the Emigration Roll.

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Which Rolls Should you check?

I've created a questionaire that will help determine what rolls you should check.  Please visit the following Page:

Questionaire

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WHAT'S NEXT?

Now you have all of the relevent data and you've either found some family members on one of the rolls or you haven't been able to locate any of them.  The next step is VERY IMPORTANT. It is laying our your RESEARCH STRATEGY. This is where you will lay out all of your known facts, what you have done as far as research is concerned, and what your NEXT STEP will be.

The next page will show you how you might put all of this together on one sheet of paper that you will be able to carry with you whenever you go to do research.

The names and data on the sheet are my particular elusive ancestor. I'm still working on this problem, so if you happen to recognize any of this family, be sure to let me know.

Your Research Strategy

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This Page updated created by Jerry Wright Jordan