Each week we receive about a half dozen
email requests that start something like "my great-grandmother was
1/2 Cherokee..." and end with "any information that you
Almost always the reply goes something like
this: There is no single source of confirmation or denial that will
resolve your Native American research goals. While many families
pass down the tradition that an ancestor was Native American of one
nation or another -- fairly few have passed down the proofs that we
genealogists like to read. That you can't prove something
doesn't make it any less a fact -- it just becomes one of the
challenges that make genealogy such an interesting hobby.
There exist no Cherokee County census records that would record
like designations because there was no Cherokee County until
1897. The Native American population of this geographic area
were also probably not included in the census reports of the
of Indian Affairs either. That makes your challenge even
harder. What may help you research are photographs, letters,
family bibles, and personal effects of your ancestors. We really
wish we had a list that we could check for you and provide all the
information that you need -- but then if we did you would miss all of
the fun of the puzzle...
There are the 1847,
Census' of the Catawba people available online which may be of
interest to some researchers.
Cherokee County South Carolina was
formed from parts of York,
Counties just before 1900. The name is derived from a community
known as Cherokee
Falls which is located in this county. There is also a Cherokee
County North Carolina and Cherokee
County Georgia which some researchers confuse with our Cherokee
County. The town of
Cherokee North Carolina -- home to the Eastern
Band of Cherokee Nation is actually located in the county of
North Carolina. The
Quala Boundary (also called the
Cherokee Reservation) is scattered
across 5 counties of North
Oklahoma is also home to a Cherokee
County and the Cherokee Nation. There is also the
Cherokee Nation which some researchers may find of interest.
Many folks who lived in years past in what is now Cherokee
County South Carolina considered themselves to be residents of Rutherford
County North Carolina. The county boundaries were just
not too clear in those days.
In many years past, this area was along the intersection of a
trading route between the Cherokee and
Nations. Generally, it was a "no mans land" where few if any Native Americans would reside. An exception appears to be
those families who racially inter-married. Since the family was not usually well received by the European colonists of the
or the Native American community; these families would often make their homes in the wilderness. At this point in history,
our Cherokee County was part of "the western wilderness" though admittedly the beginnings of that wilderness and not "the deep woods"...
If you are not certain where to begin your research into your Native American heritage -- may we suggest Native
If you would like to study a little more about the Native Nations to which South Carolina was once home; there are some very
good web resources such as SCIway's South
Carolina Indians and
Carolina Indians - Introduction. Remember too that we
border North Carolina and that the early population (both native and
European) cared little about the states geographic boundaries.
Some folks have begun asking about "tri-racial
isolates" in and around Cherokee County and South
Carolina. Certainly, on physical
observation, there are
indications that some families in this area might fall within that
classification, there is no research underway that we know of dealing
specifically with Cherokee County SC "tri-racial isolate"
families or communities. It would seem at first consideration
that these would belong to the Mulungeon
groups most having migrated into the county before and about 1930 from
Western North Carolina but then, this is only my opinion.
Now, with all of that said and a few links provided; If
you are relatively certain that your ancestor can be placed in
Cherokee County South
Carolina and you need lookups or other
information, please do write
to us and we will do whatever we can to help you out. While
it is clear that Cherokee County was home to Native Americans before
1800 and that many of those families still live in the area -- there
has been little historical research done regarding the native peoples
of this area...