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Cherokee “Trail Of Tears” Chief John Ross, My First Cousin, 6 Times Removed, Featured In New Book

May 25, 2015

Knowing more about the family tree is something my Mom was most interested in, James is continually researching, and I am always ready to listen about when those who have details wish to talk.  Now there is a new book about one of the more intriguing members of that tree that I am so proud to have as an ancestor.

Cherokee Chief John Ross from the “Trail Of Tears”.


Before I post about the book and a video interview with the author here is some background on my how Ross fits into my family tree, thanks to my Mom’s side of the family.

As a kid I remember on rainy afternoons or during the cold weeks of January the family dining room table would be covered with all sorts of papers.  There would be clippings from newspapers, a notebook of disparate names and dates, at times some books used as reference.  Always there would be one very earnest face with a curious mind about how our family roots traced backwards.  Mom was determined to find out more concerning where our family came from.

She would write letters to relatives who were not the ones showing up to the annual family reunions.  As they were further down the family tree Mom would write in an effort to gain more insight into the past.  When someone responded with how a name linked with the  family, or where a grave marker was located there was a feeling of success.  It was those nuggets that were then shared with others.  She always brought these matters up for discussion on ‘sibling days’ when her family gathered to either honor their Mom’s birthday, or in later years as a day to connect, laugh, and share.

One of the questions that always intrigued my Mom was if any of her relatives were on the infamous “Trail Of Tears”.  Her ability to research was limited as she was working in the days when ‘to goggle’ was not yet a household term.   So when my partner James came into our family, and brought his love of genealogy, and knack for researching to the task it was not long before Mom was discovering more parts of the family story at a faster pace.

Still there were many questions surrounding  the story of my Mom’s grandfather, Ether, and his Cherokee background and history that required answers. There were many questions about the Ross family in general that needed clarification and light.  In an attempt to assist my Mom, and also to discover more of the story for himself, James made some inquiries in 2005 into the matter.  We alerted her to the mission that was underway. She was eager to know whatever we found.

It was not until James six years after his first inquiry was made that he discovered a very well-researched and fact-chocked email about Ether, the Ross line, the Trail of Tears, and more about how early and from where the Ross family came to America.  It answered some questions, and created yet more.  That is the nature of such research.  Needless to say James has already sought more responses.

“If only we could call your Mom” were the words James used as he started to spill the contents of what he had discovered.

Based on information that came to light in 2011 it means my Grandma Schwarz was 1/12th Cherokee, and I am 1/48th.  The research also shows that there was rancor at a most pivotal time for the family as “different sources suggest that there was a rift in the family because of money/assets”.

It is with great pride that I know more about my Native American heritage on my Mom’s side of the family.  I am most proud of being first cousin, 6 times removed, from Chief John Ross.  He was also known as Guwisguwi (a mythological or rare migratory bird), and was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866.  My Mom’s side of the family always spoke with pride about their heritage.

Conversely on my Dad’s side there were those like Uncle Vernon who never wanted to know too much about the Native American links to our past.  When pressed about genealogy matters he often stated his concern about researching the past as “you never know when you will find a ****** in the wood pile.”    That racism and lack of curiosity was shameful.    Needless to say that type of thinking never stopped or slowed down the research.

James has a number of spokes of research into my Dad’s family tree, and even if it takes years as it did with the Ross line to make a discovery, one thing is clear.   History has a way of finding its way to the top.

Much has changed over the years since the dining room table back home would be spread with genealogy material and Mom would study it.  Now it all is contained in files on our computer, and a back-up copy in a safe deposit box.  What has not changed is the excitement over finding out new parts of the family puzzle.

Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition has written a book on a chapter of American history that isn’t well known: how the United States expanded into the Deep South after the Revolutionary War. Inskeep joined Judy Woodruff to discuss his new book, “Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross and a Great American Land Grab.”  I strongly urge those who have an interest in this part of history to watch the interview.


Bob Schieffer On Why Reporters Matter

May 24, 2015

Famed CBS journalist Bob Schieffer was interviewed by CNN’s Brain Stelter on Reliable Sources.

SCHIEFFER:  You know, we’ve got to have journalists.  The need for accurate information is more important than ever, and unless – I mean, in our system of government, having access to independently gathered, accurate information is as important to our process as the right to vote.  You have to have that in a democracy like we have.

I don’t know where reporters are going to work in the future but whatever their platform, we have to have that information, and getting accurate information, Brian, is harder now than it’s ever been.

STELTER:  You think so even though the internet has made it more accessible?

SCHIEFFER:  Yes, because most of the information is wrong.  I mean, you know, we’re just overwhelmed by news.  There’s so much news that we can’t get to the news.  And, you know, that’s what our job is as mainstream journalists is try to cut through this great maw of information and tell them what we think is relevant, what they need to know.

SCHIEFFER:  You know, I have seen so many wheels invented, reinvented in the time that I have been in television.  I’m not sure you can reinvent this wheel.  I think you have to get back to basics.

What people want when they turn on a news program of any kind is news.  They want to know what it is that they need to know about that’s going to impact their lives.  And that’s what we’ve tried to do, and I think that’s what the success in recent years of “Face the Nation” has been.

Mitch McConnell Allows Murky Congressional Waters To Become Even More Problematic

May 24, 2015

There is no way to cheer the way congress is operating. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must be held accountable.

One of the goals that McConnell has to achieve prior to 2016 is to prove to the nation the GOP can govern.   There is no evidence that the party in power in the legislative chamber can rub two sticks together and get any flicker of an idea going in any direction that works for the people of this country.   And that is a real problem for Republicans.

What happened this weekend is pure fodder for the Democrats to rightfully latch onto as proof there is no one in real control of a Republican Party which seems unable to untangle itself from the purists who wish to drive the party and the nation into the ditch.

“As senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate. Mr. McConnell has found himself vexed by Democratic delaying tactics he honed in the minority, five presidential aspirants with their own agendas and a new crop of conservative firebrands demanding their say.”

“Mr. McConnell promised that his party would instill more discipline, avoiding the last-minute legislative cliffhangers that have long marked Congress and left government workers and the capital markets in a state of constant unease. Instead, he allowed the Senate to depart with a key national security program dangling on the precipice of extinction. Senators also failed again to find a long-term solution for fixing the nation’s crumbling roads.”

Madison Had a ‘Gay’ Radio Station

May 24, 2015

Hat Tip To Dan.

Slow rainy Sunday and lots of small things passing over my desk.  This one amused me as a former radio broadcaster.    Madison, Wisconsin is known as a very liberal city and so it should be noted that a radio station–833 -AM–was licensed on June 28, 1922 and owned by the North Western Radio Company.    What were the call letters for the station?


I can find no other information about the station but if anyone has some background I would be most interested in finding out more about this place on the radio dial.

Conservative Catholics Have To Soul Search

May 24, 2015

What gets jettisoned first?

Outmoded political thinking or the pope?   Whichever way a conservative Catholic Republican turns there are a series of questions that must be addressed.

Catholic Republicans are developing a pope problem. Earlier this month, Francis recognized Palestinian statehood. This summer, he’s going to issue an encyclical condemning environmental degradation. And in September, just as the GOP primary race heats up, Francis will travel to Washington to address Congress on climate change.

Francis may be popular with the general public, but key Republican primary constituencies — hawks, climate-change skeptics and religious conservatives, including some Catholics, are wary of the pope’s progressivism. Some, pronouncing themselves “Republicans first and Catholics second,” even say they would look askance at a candidate perceived to hew too closely to the bishop of Rome. This internal conflict flips a familiar script, in which Democrats like John Kerry and Joe Biden were labeled “cafeteria Catholics” when their stances on social issues like abortion and gay marriage differed from those of the church. 

“City of Scoundrels” by Gary Krist Wows With Racial Riots, Aircraft Crash, And Political Intrigue

May 24, 2015

I have been meaning to get this item posted on my blog for a few weeks.  Since it is raining and I have too much caffeine running in my system means it is time to get caught up on scads of small projects on my desk.  One of them deals with a simply stunning book, City of Scoundrels by Gary Krist.


It might occur to some readers that every book I mention on Caffeinated Politics has a most positive review.   That should not be interpreted to mean whatever I read is pushed off as a good idea for others.  I only encourage others to read the books that I have found to be powerfully driven by amazing events or a narrative that demands the pages to be turned.

Both of those are why I suggest City of Scoundrels for those who love history.  And might I add history we may have never heard of before. That certainly was the case for me when it came to the events of July 21, 1919–or for that matter the entire month of that year in Chicago.  I found this book so compelling I ordered a copy for a friend who I know will enjoy the pages of history unfold.

Many a time when reading this book I thought of Mom who loved Chicago history.  She would have enjoyed either hearing me tell in short order some of the larger themed events from July 1919 or as I often would do in the kitchen of our family home while she drank coffee from a mug—read a few passages that were sure to be dramatic. Then we would talk over the topics that were written about.

Out of a clear blue sky, amid a wave of terrorist bombings, a commercial airship crashes among the skyscrapers of the financial district, burning victims alive at their desks. But this catastrophe was not the work of Al Qaeda. It happened on July 21, 1919, when a stray spark ignited the 10,000 cubic feet of hydrogen in the Goodyear blimp Wingfoot Express as it floated above Chicago’s crowded Loop. With Twitteresque speed, sportswriters at Comiskey Park watching the Yankees play the soon-to-be-Black Sox began to telegraph the news across the country, even before the Wingfoot exploded through the skylight of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, killing more than a dozen people.

Yet America’s first major aviation disaster was just the beginning of what Gary Krist, in “City of Scoundrels,” suggests were the worst two weeks in Chicago history. On July 22, a 6-year-old girl disappeared. She was last seen with a man who had shown “conspicuous interest” in young girls. The suspect was arrested, interrogated, deprived of a lawyer and sleep. Detectives employed an alienist (a psychiatrist) and one of them dressed as a priest to trick the man into confessing. They even let the girl’s father assault him. But the tactics failed to produce a solid lead, escalating pressure on them to arrest all suspected “morons,” as pedophiles were called in those days.

While this horrific whodunit was unfolding, wider municipal crises were also terrifying Chicagoans, including a rash of bombings thought to be the work of either Bolshevik revolutionaries or those hoping to intimidate the city’s black population, which had doubled in less than three years. “Half a Million Darkies From Dixie” is how Col. Robert R. McCormick’s Tribune described the migration, inflaming the resentment of working-class whites forced to compete for scarce jobs and housing.

15th Anniversary

May 24, 2015

Today James Wilson and I celebrate 15 years of being a couple.  I think only once in your life does someone find another who can completely turn the world around.  James did that for me and there is not a day that goes by I do not feel the full awareness of what love means and how much it is to be treasured once found.  Thanks for the shared journey down our road of life, James.  I love you.

oct 14


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