Letter From Home “Grandma Anna Schwarz Genealogy And The ‘Trail Of Tears'” 10/11/11


The percentages of the bloodline have been corrected to match up with the latest information we have received.

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 turned on his computer this morning (6 years after his 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.  I was still bleary-eyed and not sure what cousin (several times removed) he was talking about when told  of the email.   But once alert I was delighted with the news.

Based on the latest information 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 ”   The humor will not be lost on many who will learn of this news. 

Picture of John Ross (Cherokee Chief)

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.

One thought on “Letter From Home “Grandma Anna Schwarz Genealogy And The ‘Trail Of Tears'” 10/11/11

  1. Railroad Baron

    very interesting. then i must be a first cousin also (removed from many generations). i miss anna, herman, and your parents. i wish the digital voice recorder had been invented about 30 years ago so that we could record their voices and family history stories.

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