A family member recently had a DNA test resulted from Ancestry.com. BadBird’s family history says his mother was descended from the Cherokee Indian tribe, and that was from her Grandmother, which would be Rosa Evelyn Davis Young. The story went something like this —
Gramma Rosa was a full blooded Indian woman, with dark hair which she kept in braids, high cheekbones, and darker skin colouring. She loved to fish. In her old age, she took her fishing rod and hiked off to the river to catch some dinner. She had to walk on the railroad tracks to get to her destination, and didn’t want to be caught by surprise by a train. So, she did something she’d been taught by her Indian folks — she put her ear to the tracks to listen for a train. She was deaf — or nearly so — and didn’t actually hear the train….
Now, I don’t actually have much information about her. I don’t know her parents. I don’t have a death date for her. She was born August 1876, and died after 1930, but I don’t have a record of that event. Which, while disappointing, actually does point to possible Native American heritage.
Back to the DNA. I think the story is true to some extent, mostly because the people involved had no reason to lie, because my mother in law had quite Indian features, and because of this lack of information for Rosa. But that family member’s DNA resulted with no Indian blood at all, even though she is a descendant of Rosa, herself.
This article explains quite well how this is possible.
Update: I did a quick search on Ancestry.com for both Rosa Evelyn Davis Young and her husband Oliver Bebe Young. No further results. So, according to the information available we are right back where we started from … my children may, indeed, be part Cherokee, but we don’t have any evidence of such. And, the fact that the DNA results are negative for Native American is not conclusive evidence AGAINST Indian heritage.
- Watson, K. (2015). VINTAGE NATIVE AMERICAN GIRL IMAGE – SILHOUETTE. Retrieved from Graphics Fairy: https://thegraphicsfairy.com/vintage-native-american-girl-image-silhouette/
About Roberta Estes
Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.