Thursday, May 1, 2014

Article #291 America, A Melting Pot


            It’s amazing how America is a blend of different cultures. Researching my husband’s genealogy, we made the discovery that he has Native American roots because of several great grandmothers of Indian lineage who married into his family. My hubby is a Southerner and his family roots begin with early European settlers to America in colonial times to Virginia. We followed their migration across the country from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas to Missouri then Oklahoma and eventually to a land not a part of the USA. I’m talking about the Republic of Texas. Free land was offered to those wanting to settle there. Many families made the long journey to homestead in this area. (Below is a photo of my husband's grandmother Gladys Winfield Floyd and her uncle Walter Winfield. Gladys' grandmother Catherine Bryant was Native American.)
      There have always been rumors in the Floyd family about being descendents of Native Americans. It’s been a difficult research challenge to prove. Most Indians were not literate or kept written records and government records are few. My husband’s uncle Bill, still living, remembers stories of his grandmother Catherine Bryant going back to live on land in Oklahoma for a year in order to reestablish her membership in the tribe. Later, she received allotment payments from oil royalties. We traced her life and roots. Born in Missouri and married in Oklahoma, she settled in Texas. Her name is listed in the Dawes Commission Index-a registry of Indian people trying to reclaim their tribal citizenship. She belonged to the Cherokee tribe according to this list.
It was accepted in the olden days that white men would intermarry with Native American women because of the lack of white or Caucasian women in the wild west . Many early trappers and settlers did this. Intermarriage served several purposes for men: getting a wife, being accepted into her tribe and sometimes an opportunity to get land. In the survival days of homesteading on remote ranches, intermarriage was necessary. It was rare that a white woman would marry a Native American man, but did happen occasionally. (See photo of Walter Winfield and his bride Ellie Adams.)
 Nowadays, we are hopefully overcoming our past racial prejudices. Maybe this explains why it was so difficult to discover a family’s Indian roots as they were usually kept a secret and not broadcasted. After several generations, this unique heritage has disappeared in many families. With the advent of DNA testing, some of your ethnic roots can be rediscovered. Learning about early American history gives you a sense of where you fit into the American culture. NEXT TIME: Preserve Your Ethnic Heritage 

1 comment:

Kay said...

It's always been a wonderful thing to see such a blending of races in Hawaii. You often can't tell what the racial make up of someone is because they are such a melting pot of many backgrounds. I wish it could be that way everywhere.