Friday, November 18, 2011

Do I have Native American ancestry?


I’ve often heard within our family that there is Indian or Native American ancestry.  Now this is a common theme among genealogists.  I’ve always heard that my mother’s Tannahill side was the source of this Native American blood.  This is the same side of the family that told the story that we were related to “Machine Gun” Kelly – it sounded likely since there was a Kelly background…until I found out that his real name was George Kelly Barnes and he came from Tennessee.  So…I look at these family stories sometimes with a grain of salt.

The most likely Native American ancestor – if they exist is probably about four generations back.  My great grandfather, John Lyons Tannahill, was the son of Almira Jones and John Lyons Tannahill.  Almira was the daughter of Henry Valentine Jones and Huldah Harrington and she was born 3 Jul 1850 and died 5 Aug 1916.  She married John Lyons Tannahill on 27 Dec 1866 and they had 4 sons (first one stillborn) and John Lyons Tannahill (Sr) died 9 days before his son, John Lyons Tannahill was born.  Almira remarried Samuel Pennell and had 7 more children.  I’ve been able to trace information about Almira and her parents – but the trail runs cold.  I have the dubious honor of being descended from Johnsons, Smiths, & Jones…if you don’t have definite details, they are exceptionally hard to trace.

Henry Valentine Jones was born in 14 Feb 1827 in Ohio…I have nothing more specific than the date and location.  I suspect it might Athens Co., OH – but I can’t be sure.  He is supposedly the son of Henry Washington Jones and an unknown woman.  I believe that if we have Native American ancestry that it is this unknown woman.  There are features common to Native American ancestry in pictures I have seen of both Henry Valentine Jones and Almira Jones.  However, having these features doesn’t make it so.  I’ve also read bits and pieces about the Jones family have Welsh ancestry.  As I said before – I have no proof beyond a birthdate, death date and marriage date for Henry Valentine Jones.
Henry Valentine Jones

Almira Jones Tannahill Pennell

Here is the west – there seems to be a magic date when death records were kept.  Most of the time, these dates are about 1904 or so.  Henry Valentine Jones died in 1904 before death records were kept in Kansas.  So – without a family bible, birth record, or death record – there is little to go on for that mysterious Native American ancestry.  The family story is all that we have to base this information on. 

Now because I have no proof or any records as yet, I still hold out hope that someday I may find something.  So, every once in a while, I check records for anything further on Henry Valentine Jones and his possible father Henry Washington Jones.  I correspond with different people who have experience with Ohio lines and counties to find out if anyone has seen those names.  I probably touch base on the family at least once a year.  You might wonder if I have found any success as yet.  The answer is no…not on this family.  But…the method has worked on other families.  So, perhaps one day, I will find the key record that will answer the question one way or another – do I have Native American ancestry?