Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Trail of Tears, Stick People, and the Whitetop Laurel Band

My Native American Connection

The Sizemore family had thought themselves to be of Cherokee blood for generations. There is no doubt that there is Cherokee blood in the line.
We know that George Sizemore (b. abt 1751 d. 1820) married Elizabeth “Annie” Hart about 1772 in Surry County, Va. And that Annie was a Cherokee squaw whose Indian name was Aruna. This, according to ECA # 10133 by Frank Sizemore of Pineville, Wyoming Co. Va.
But the most important event for this belief of Cherokee heritage happened during the “Removal” – the Trail of Tears. 

As the young American nation was growing and expanding ever westward, there were more and more conflicts with the original inhabitants of that land. The tribes that lived on those lands took exception to the white settlers encroaching onto the hunting grounds they had used for untold generations.
This lead to “The Indian Wars” which was actually a series of wars between several tribes of Native Americans and the new settlers. These conflicts span a period from the Jamestown Massacre in 1622 to the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota in 1890.

The Indians were pushed further west and their numbers dwindled because of war, European diseases and in some cases, starvation. Several tribes (or remnants of tribes) would join with other larger groups for survival and thus, became mixed among themselves. It was common during this time to have a tribe that was made up of members of two, three or even more different tribes. 

In 1830 Congress passed the “Indian Removal Act” which called for the “forcible removal” of the Cherokee nation (and others) from their lands east of the Mississippi River to reservations in Oklahoma. During this forced march in 1838 an estimated 4,000 of the 15,000 Cherokees died. (National Park Service, Department of the Interior)
This is where our family history once again intersects with national history. Because it was during the Trail of Tears that some of the Cherokee escaped and were taken in by a family of Indians who had already assimilated into the local white population by the name of … you guessed it … Sizemore.

High in the Appalachian Mountains, as the story goes; the Sizemore family would stack huge piles of sticks in which to hide these escapees. This gave rise to the name “stick people” which the group was called for many years.
Consequently, this group of ‘stick people’ intermarried into the Sizemore family for generations until it was hard to distinguish between the mixed blood - or Melungeon - Sizemores and the Cherokee.
Then in 1907 the government was ordered to pay out funds to the Cherokee nation. Suddenly, it became very important to be an official Cherokee and over 2000 applications were made to the Cherokee nation by members of the Sizemore family. All of them were denied  for various reasons. 

The same decree [U.S. Court of Claims, April 29, 1907] also provided that the fund was to be distributed to all Eastern and Western Cherokee Indians who were alive on May 28, 1906, who could establish the fact that at the time of the treaties they were members of the Eastern Cherokee Tribe or were descendants of such persons, and that they had not been affiliated with any tribe of Indians other than the Eastern Cherokee or the Cherokee Nation. (Catalogue, 2009)

After the denial of their applications for membership in the Cherokee nation, the Sizemore family decided to band together to form the Whitetop Laurel Band of Cherokee led by Chief Blevins.

Testimony of Whitetop Chief William H. Blevins:

          "The word 'Chief' in my application, means that I am Chief of the
 White Top Band of Cherokee Indians, an organization of the principal Cherokee Indians living about White Top, and was perfected about ten 
years ago. We organized so as to demand our rights in a body. We thought we had not been getting them before. In 1896, we wanted to go to the Indian Territory, and organized for that purpose. When the band was first organized there were about 2,175, I believe. They were all Sizemore descendants. No 
one else was allowed to become a member if it was known…” (Powell, 2002)

*Note: This was originally produced in The Metis Heritage of the Sizemore Family by Jason Adams

Next: Mixed blood, Melungeon, or Metis?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Sizemore Family Roots

My Native American Connection 

 So, where did the Sizemore family come from?

As more than one writer has pointed out, we can be pretty sure that there wasn’t a Native American named Sizemore before the pilgrims landed. The name Sizemore is very old British name. One source says that the name comes from England originating in Lancashire (Sizemore family crest, 2009) and one researcher says

“… There were 44 spelling variants of SIZEMORE. The earliest record was dated 1556 and largest concentration of the surname was in the county of Gloucester [England].”  (Surname History)

 Some say the name comes from Jewish roots. There is a mention of an indentured servant in Jamestown of Portuguese-Jewish descent and also that some Sizemore’s may have come from a Scots-Irish heritage.  (The Metis Heritage of the Sizemore Family, 2001 )
There is a couple living near Jamestown in Charles City, Va. around 1619. William Sismore came from England and was granted 100 acres of land on the Appomattox River. William married Martha (probably) in Virginia. [As she is known to have traveled between England and the colonies a few times.] (Surname history)

Here’s an interesting bit of history – Martha came to Virginia later than William and is possibly one of the women that the Virginia Company ordered to be sent to the colonies.

The Virginia Company of London seemed to agree that women were indeed quite necessary. They hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered in 1619 that "...a fit hundredth might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt, to make wives to the inhabitants and by that means to make the men there more settled and less movable...." ( )

 It seems the planters and other landowners were growing restless without the joys of female companionship and the company decided this was the best way to help them settle. So they sent the ‘tobacco brides’ who could be bought at the set price of 120 pounds of tobacco which paid for their passage.  (History of Women in the United States)
Meanwhile, despite fires, Indian attacks and periods of starvation, Jamestown did survive with the help of these and other new colonists.
William and Martha appear on a list of ‘the living’ in Virginia at West & Shirley Hundred Jan. 14, 1623/4 after an Indian massacre on the Appomattox River. (Sizemore)

A few years later the Sizemore name shows up more commonly as the family name spreads out in Virginia and North Carolina. Details about the early families are sketchy but things start to get interesting in the mid to late 1700’s with an important central character by the name of Edward “Old Ned” Sizemore. As we will see Old Ned is used as the patriarch of many of the lines of Indians to follow.  
Edward “Old Ned” Sizemore was born, well, one source says prior to 1725, another says about 1742. (Did I mention they didn’t keep track of dates too well?) The son of Edward Sizemore and “a Shawano woman”, he died in Oct. 1780 in Ashe County, North Carolina.
He and his brothers – John, Hiram, George, Ephram, and Owen come up frequently in the stories told later in the ECA’s (Eastern Cherokee Applications) in the early 1900’s. As it turns out, these applications are the richest source for Sizemore family genealogy research known today. But these men are the foundation of most of the Sizemore family lines in the country.
Next: The Trail of Tears, Stick People, and the Whitetop Laurel Band

Monday, March 26, 2012


My Native American Connection

We are the people no doubts, but our applications was wrong I suppose.”
ECA # 10133 by Frank Sizemore

We are Cherokee, we just aren’t allowed to claim it because our ancestors chose not to sign up on the government’s official lists and now our claims to the money are denied. (--, 2003)

This is only part of the frustration and confusion experienced by members of the Whitetop Laurel Band of Cherokee in the early 1900’s. Most of them had been told their whole lives that they were of Cherokee blood and the money? That - was a huge payout that the American government was made to pay to members of the greater Cherokee Nation. This was because of broken treaties - particularly the Treaty of New Echota Cherokee Indians (1835). (History)

As it turns out the Sizemore family are certainly of Native American blood but how much and of which tribe are subjects of debate to this very day. Who were they? Where did they come from? Why all the confusion? And what is a Me’tis?

The research into Native American heritage is a daunting task, more so than the task of finding, say, European connections, for instance. There are a few reasons for the added complications: 

For one thing, Indians did not keep track of birthdays and anniversaries the way most cultures do. There was no sense of belonging to a particular set of parents – each child had several fathers and several mothers. The tribe was a large extended family. The survival of the tribe was the most important thing.
 Tracing ones ancestor to a tribe or region is often easier than finding their mother or father. Mothers were more important than fathers as the society is matriarchal. They kept their lineage through the mother’s line and not the father’s line as we do. 

Also, polygamy was an accepted practice. A man could have as many wives as he wanted as long as he could provide for them and as long as all parties were in agreement with the arrangement. 

             Former Navajo tribal chairman Peter MacDonald explains Navajo polygyny this way:

              “A man would marry a woman, then work hard for his     family. If she had a sister who was not married, and if the man proved to be caring, a good provider, and a good husband, he would
be gifted with his wife’s sister, marrying her as well.”
             (Indians-201-Native-American-Marriage, 2011)

So it was not uncommon for a man to have many children with many wives and they did believe in having lots of babies. So, for a brave to father 20 to 30 children or more was not unheard of. This is particularly true with chiefs and successful warriors.

There is a story of one Sizemore - Chief Goldenhawk who was said to be a big hulk of a guy and not at all a handsome man.

… George “Goldenhawk” Sizemore fathered approximately 50 children, census records show Goldenhawk at one time supporting four different families with 7 to 10 children in each of them. In 1860, he was indicted for bigamy in Floyd Co. KY, and according to minutes from the hearing, the judge said, “Mr. Sizemore, I understand you have about 50 children, to which Goldenhawk replied, “I guess you’re right. But, judge, if I’d been half as pretty a man as you are, I’d had more than that.” There are no known portraits of Goldenhawk, but he was said to be one of the ugliest men that ever was, puzzling his descendants, leading them to believe he had more attractive qualities than good looks. (DeGidio, 1999)

Next: Where did the Sizemore family come from?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Results are in!

Good morning, dear readers,
The results from my Y-DNA67 test have been posted. I am sorry to say that this is just another beginning. I had hoped that these results would be an ending - an answer - would somehow just lay out a spreadsheet of my paternal lineage. But, alas, no. 
So, here is the good news...I have a copy of my 'standard Y-STR Values' and since I tested 67 of the possible 111 available now, I have 67 numbers that I can compare to thousands of other peoples numbers.

The catch is that I can only compare with people who have been tested and posted their results and shared, at least, some of their family research. True enough, Family Tree DNA is the largest database of it's kind in the world and I can and will go into other similar databases to see what I find there. So the search begins or should I say, it continues?

What I do know is this: I, my brothers and cousins belong to the major group (called Haplogroups)  "R"  - specifically - R1b1a2-M269 which is, of course, the largest, most popular group in Western Europe. So there are only MILLIONs of people we are related to in that part of the world and we all share what is known as a "Most Recent Common Ancestor"  who lived only some brief 30,000 years ago! Which is cool if your interested in pre-historic ancestry. I am a little more concerned with the last 3 or 4 centuries - and I thought that was a big deal.

So, I have joined a few "surname groups" with names that appear in my fathers family tree. These include; Green(e), Cook(e), Adkins, Rose, Stewart (Stuart) and Sizemore. 
This search has revealed no surprises. We are related to a lot of people whose ancestors are from England, Ireland, Scotland and a few in France and Germany. Again, no big revelations here. 
As my results have just been posted, I expect to contact and be contacted by distant cousins who are also doing genea-research to compare notes and possibly fill in some blanks. But in the mean time, I will move on to the test I should have done first- Family Finder, which promises to provide me a report of genealogy on both my mothers and fathers side of my family and give me, among other things, a list of my % of ancestry. 
Until then, my family and friends, I've got a lot of research to do. 

I hope this finds you all happy and healthy - Happy Saint Paddys Day!