Native Cherokee

The Cherokee County South Carolina USGenWeb Project Pages

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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 have...". 

Almost always the reply goes something like this:

(note that each underlined word is a hyperlink to another web page)

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 Bureau 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 184718541880, and 1900 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, Union, and Spartanburg 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 Swain North CarolinaThe Quala Boundary (also called the Cherokee Reservation) is scattered across 5 counties of North Carolina: Cherokee, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain.  Oklahoma is also home to a Cherokee County and the Cherokee Nation.  There is also the Southern 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 or Cleveland 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 Catawba 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 LowCountry 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 American Genealogy.

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 South Carolina Indians - IntroductionRemember 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...

Some Maps Carolina Sites

good luck!


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last edited on Sunday, April 07, 2002
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