Finding Martin Cherokees is easy, finding Martin Cherokee ancestors is hard.
One reason for this is that General Joseph Martin looms so large he obscures the other Martins. A William Martin was having Cherokee children before
General Joseph even came into the Cherokee Nation. Recognizing William
Martin’s contribution is one part of setting the facts straight; the other is to
repeat that the general did NOT father any children with an Emory girl. He
had one Cherokee wife and maintained a good and close relationship with his
The following is based on data from the Nancy Ward Society:
1. Nanye'hi, daughter of (trad.) Tame Doe, born on c1738 at Cherokee Nation
(now TN); died on 1822 at Cherokee Nation (now Polk county, TN); buried
at Nancy Ward's Grave, Polk, TN. [some sources say she d.1824]
She married, first, to Kingfisher; died on 1755 at Canton County, GA;
and married, second, to Bryan WARD. [Bryant Ward]
Children of Kingfisher and Nanye'hi were as follows:
2. i. Ka-ti, born c1752; married Samuel CANDY, Ellis HARLAN.
ii. Hi-s-ki-ti-hi (Fivekiller), born on c1754 at Cherokee
Nation (probably present-day TN); buried at Nancy Ward's
Grave, Polk, TN.
He married to Catherine.
Child of Bryan WARD and Nanye'hi was as follows:
3. iii. Elizabeth WARD, born c1759; married(1) Joseph MARTIN.
who was born on 18 September 1740 at Albemarle county, VA;
he died on 18 December 1808 at Henry county, VA at 68 years of
age; buried at Belle Mont, Henry, VA; son of Joseph MARTIN
and Susannah CHILDS; and married(2), to (Bernard?) HUGHES.
Children of Joseph MARTIN and Elizabeth WARD were as follows:
i. Nancy MARTIN, born 1778?; married Michael HILDERBRAND.
ii. James MARTIN, born on 1780 at Chittiko, Cherokee Nation
East (now TN).
Child of (Bernard?) HUGHES and Elizabeth WARD was as follows:
iii. Rachel HUGHES, born c1790; married Charles ROGERS.
It is reliably established that the wife of General Martin was Elizabeth Ward,
daughter of Bryant Ward (“Bryant” was a middle name) and “Nan-i” or Nancy.
Based on the words of his own son, General Martin had but one Cherokee wife,
who was dear to him. He did, however, have white wives back in Virginia, as
we detail below.
The Chronology of General Martin’s time in the Cherokee Nation
1740 born in Virginia
1756 brief militia service in Virginia
1769 tried to establish settlement in Powell’s Valley (in what is now West Virginia)
1770 returned to Henry County, Virginia
1774 returned to Powell’s Valley
1776 Jesse Walton and Benjamin Cleveland of Surry County, North Carolina,
defend the Watauga and Nolachucky settlements from Cherokee attacks.
Captain Joseph Martin, Virginia’s new agent to the Cherokee, comes to
Tennessee and becomes fast friends with Walton and Cleveland.
1777 During peace talks (July 1777) Captain Joseph Martin meets young
Cherokee beauty Elizabeth Ward. They marry.
1778 Jesse Walton appointed justice and helps to establish Jonesborough
1779 Joseph Martin writes to Virginia Governor Patrick Henry of the growing
Chickamauga threat (he believed to be living at Chota among neutrals)
1780 Virginians defeat Cherokee and destroy Overhill and Chickamauga villages;
Joseph Martin’s mother-in-law (Nannie Ward) is taken into custody.
1780/1 Captain John Martin, brother of Colonel Joseph Martin, escorts his Cherokee
sister-in-law back to her father’s trading post at Tugaloo and he remains in
that area as his brother’s assistant agent; Joseph returns to Virginia, hearing
that his wife has taken ill
1781 Joseph Martin’s first wife, Sarah Lucas, dies of smallpox in Virginia in March.
1783 Jesse Walton settles in n.e. Georgia near Tugaloo (then Franklin County);
Walton and Bryant Ward (father-in-law of Martin) become partners
1784 Colonel Joseph Martin is in Virginia and has married his second white wife,
Susannah Graves, on 24 February 1783. (She will have a son Joseph Martin Jr.
1785 around this time, Colonel Joseph Martin joins Walton, Ward at Tugaloo and
attends the Treaty of Hopewell (Keowee) note: son Joseph Martin Jr.
born 23 September 1785
1786 Creek Indians begin sporadic raids in eastern Georgia
1787 Joseph Martin elected to the North Carolina legislature; on a visit to
Tugaloo he complains of the damages caused by the Creeks; he also
spends time with his white family in Virginia (son Jesse Martin b.1787/8).
1788 Colonel Joseph Martin was called upon to lead (or control) vengeful militia
in Tennessee after the Kirk Family Massacre. After the murder of four or
five Cherokee (including Long Fellow, Abraham, and Old Tassel) under a flag
of truce, Martin resigns as Indian Agent. He returns to Virginia (son Thomas
b. 1789) but goes down to Tugaloo for a year.
1789 Jesse Walton and Sheriff Moses Guest are wounded in a Creek raid.
Joseph Martin tends to Walton, and writes Walton’s will on 13 June 1789.
(Walton mentions wife and children in the will but local history continues to
claim that his family was killed in the raid.) After burying Walton, Martin goes
back to Tennesee (then part of North Carolina) and is again elected to the
1790 Now General, Joseph Martin takes his two white sons, William and Brice, to
1791 Martin returns to Virginia, and serves in the Virginia legislature. (8 children
born in Virginia beginning 1791/2.)
1800 Elizabeth (Ward) Martin noted to be living on a “fine estate” in n.e. Georgia
1803 General Martin officially retires from public office.
1808 Attempting an expedition to the west, General Martin falls ill and returns to
Virginia where he dies in November.
[various sources used, including Robert Eldridge Bouwman’s Traveler’s Rest and
the Tugaloo Crossroads (State of Georgia : Dept of Natural Resources, 1980)]
Using the above chronology, the difficulties of having Joseph Martin father an
additional 4 or 5 Cherokee children are obvious but notice also in late 1780 or
early 1781 his brother John Martin enters the scene, unattached and quite able
to father 4 or 5 Cherokee children. As we shall see below, that is just what
In “The Cherokee Tomahawk” issue of 13 March 1865 it states in a tribute to
Judge John Martin, who had died 25 years earlier:
Chief Justice John Martin . . . was the ninth child of Susanna Emory,
the granddaughter of Ludovic Grant. His father was Brigadier General
Joseph Martin . . . . He was a half brother to Richard Fields, Chief of the
Texas Cherokees. (p.37)
Older sources, not available to Dr. Starr, were uncovered in the Georgia archives
several decades after Starr’s history was published. These records establish
that the father of Judge John Martin is not General Joseph Martin, but his
brother, Captain John Martin.
It was widely thought that there were whites pretending to be Cherokee who
were “misleading” the tribe into insisting that the old treaties be honored.
The state of Georgia was intent on removing the Cherokee even to the point of
ignoring the president and the U.S. Supreme Court. Governor George Gilmer
singled out John Martin, the Treasurer of the Cherokee, to be exposed. He
solicited statements about the parents of John Martin from whites who knew
him. To his chagrin, people spoke so highly of Martin and his family that the
governor set aside his plan. Here are excerpts from some of the letters:
1) 2 July 1831 letter of Colonel Hugh Montgomery, U.S. Indian Agent, to
Gov. George Gilmer of Georgia: “John Martin’s Mother is said to have been
Half Indian, his Father a Brother of Gen. Martin of Virginia.”
[Whites Among the Cherokee, p.73]
2) 29 August 1831 letter of General Benjamin Cleveland, to Gov. George
R. Gilmer of Georgia: “. . . concerning the parentage of John Martin
Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation . . . the father of John Martin was a native
of Virginia the brother of Joseph Martin the first Agent of the Cherokee Nation
after the Revolution. I have been acquainted with John Martin since he was
about ten years old we went to school together when we were boys he has been
raised principally by a brother in Law who was a verry decent white man,
Martin[‘s] father died when he was nearly grown. . . .”
[Whites Among the Cherokee, p.93]
3) 30 August 1831 letter of Samuel A. Wales, to Gov. Gilmer:
“John Martin the present Treasurer of the Nation was born, and lived, in that
part of the Nation, which is now this County [Habersham], up to the time of
the last Cession by the Cherokees. His Father was a white man, of the same
name with the son and lived among the Cherokees from quite a youth to the
period of his death. His Mother was a half breed. . . . I have known Martin for
several years. . . .”
[Whites Among the Cherokee, p.94]
John Martin was b.c.1750 in Virginia and was the younger brother of Joseph
Martin (1740 – 1808). John d.c.1800 among the Cherokee in the upper Georgia
area that was sometimes considered part of South Carolina.
He is usually called Colonel John Martin, but captain seems to be the last rank
He m(1) Susannah (Emory) Fields who was b.1750 Tomatly, Cherokee Nation
(North Carolina) and d.c. 1796 in Georgia. They had:
i. John Martin b. 20 October 1781 Georgia; d. 17 October 1840
in Oklahoma. He was Treasurer of the Cherokee, then judge, then
Chief Justice. Buried near Fort Gibson.
m(1) Lucy McDaniel (b.c.1791 d.1860)
m(2) Eleanor (Nellie) McDaniel (b.c.1793 d. 1849)
He had both wives at the same time, in Georgia and Indian
Territory, having 8 children with each.
ii. Nannie Martin b.1782/3
m. Jeter Lynch (“Peter” Lynch on 1817 roll)
m. Michael Hildebrand ?
iii. Elizabeth Martin b.1784-87
m. Edward Adair
iv. Rachel Sabra Martin b.1785-88
m. Daniel Davis (1785 – 1866)
He m(2) Mary (Emory) Fawling who was b.1746 Tomatly, Cherokee Nation
(North Carolina) and d.c.1800 in Tennessee. They had:
v. Samuel Martin b.c. 1781-86 Georgia; d.
m(1) Catherine Hildebrand (had 6 ch.)
m(2) Charlotte Wickett (had 2 ch.)
m(3) Ruth Hicks (had 2 ch.)
Comments on Judge John Martin by Elizabeth Arnett Fields:
Judge John Martin was a product of two conflicting worlds. Only one-eighth Cherokee,
well-educated, blonde, and blue-eyed, John Martin easily could have passed for white. He
was wealthy by any standards of the day, being a slave owner whose plantations produced
nearly seven thousand bushels of corn and wheat in 1834. At one time, apparently he made
the decision to leave his Cherokee heritage behind, even taking an oath to support the U.S. Constitution. However, within a few years he changed his mind and abandoned his home to
move within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Subsequently he relinquished three other homes, as the Cherokees were forced off their land by the white settlers of Georgia. For years,
as a leader of the Cherokee Nation, he fought for U.S. recognition. . . . .
Exactly when Joseph's brother, Jack, first arrived in the Cherokee Nation is unknown; but, by 1780 at the latest, Jack was living in the Cherokee Overhill Towns along the Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, and Tellico rivers in what is now southeastern Tennessee, "primarily occupied as a trader." Jack Martin also married into the Cherokee Nation. . . .
The birthplace of Judge John Martin is undetermined. It is known that judge Martin grew up in the Tugaloo River region, along the present-day Georgia-South Carolina border, and that he eventually established a plantation in the nearby Nacoochee Valley. Patricia Lockwood, a descendant of Judge Martin who has done extensive research on his life, believes that Judge Martin was born in the Overhill Towns and moved south to the Tugaloo region in 1789, when he was five years old. Gen. Joseph Martin had interests in the Tugaloo region, and, at the end of his agency in 1789, he turned most of his efforts to those interests. Lockwood surmises that, due to the close relationship between the brothers, Jack moved to the Tugaloo area at about the same time as Joseph, bringing his Cherokee family with him.8
However, Lockwood's explanation does not accord with traditional Cherokee family dynamics. Judge John Martin's mother had been married twice before her marriage to Jack Martin. It would have been unlikely that she would move, with her children from her two previous marriages, to a new area in order to follow her husband. Such a move would have cut her off from the traditional support she would have received from her brothers and maternal uncles. A more logical explanation is that, well before 1789, Jack Martin moved to the Tugaloo region, where Susannah Emory was living when they married, and that their son, the future Judge John Martin, was born there in 1784. This explanation is further supported by a letter to Governor Gilmer, in which Samuel Wales asserts that Judge John Martin was born in"Habersham County." At the time wrote the letter, Habersham County encompassed both present-day Habersham and White counties, which include the Tugaloo River region.9
Martin probably was raised mostly by his mother and her brothers, along with his two sisters and his mother's children from her two previous marriages (two half-sisters and six half-brothers), according to Cherokee custom. Both his parents died when he was relatively young. His mother died when he was an adolescent, and after her death he was raised by his brother-in-law, a white man named Jeter Lynch, the husband of his older sister Nancy. Judge Martin's father died when he was "almost grown," probably in 1801 or 1802.11
[Elizabeth Arnett Fields, Between Two Cultures: Judge John Martin and the Struggle for Cherokee Sovereignty, U of Tennessee]
William Martin Sr. of South Carolina attempted to enter the Indian trade in
1748 but removed himself by 1750 because of the dangers. He submitted
expenses incurred on behalf of the public for his trade efforts:
Submitted accounts in 1749 for Indian
expenses in the amounts of
90 and L
21 and the finance committee asked that he prove the accounts.
[SC Commons Journal of 19 May 1749.]
His sons William and John Martin went to the backcountry as soldiers under
Captain Paul Demere, serving in South Carolina and Georgia for two months
[Capt Paul Demere’s SC Independent Foot Co, on duty in SC & GA 25 Aug 1756 – 24 Oct 1756.
Murtie June Clark, 992-998]
William Martin continued in service and went to Fort Loudon under Captain John
Stuart. He remained at the fort, probably taking a Cherokee wife.
[A pvt in Capt. John Stuart’s Company at Fort Loudon 15 Jul 1756-27 Mar 1757. Ibid.,1072-3]
[SC Indian Docs 1754-1765 (3) 207 (from Ft. Loudon) ]
He survived the siege, and the ensuing war, and settled in upper South Carolina
with his mixed-blood wife. During the Revolution, he served as a private in a
backcountry company of loyalists.
[Loyalists, I, 111-3]
He had several children who were aware of their Cherokee heritage but chose to
live among whites. We believe he associated with the Davis family : James,
John, George and Daniel Davis. He had a son who married back into the tribe
and was known as Oo-suh-yeh-ta or O-sa-Ya-Tu (Charles? Martin). This son
died before the removal but left descendents in the eastern tribe.