Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Collins: The Melungeon Connection

Connecting with kin is just one of the blessings of exploring a family tree. In researching my mother's Kitts line, I was introduced to Norman and Sonja Collins (pictured right), who are my distant cousins and are serious genealogists.

My maternal grandfather George Washington Kitts' mother was Nellie Lucinda Collins, daughter of Aaron Collins. Norman's grandmother Clarissa was Aaron's niece, and she also married a Collins, her first cousin Tom Lee Collins. Tom Lee and Clarissa Collins are pictured left.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Judaculla Rock

For many of us, our elusive Cherokee ties are intriguing, and I'm enjoying learning more about the history and ways. While searching for sacred Cherokee sites, I visited the mysterious Judaculla Rock, a large sandstone inscribed with various symbols and images.

According to Cherokee legend, Judaculla, the slant-eyed giant, leaped from his lofty mountain home on Tennessee Bald and scratched the rock as he landed. Rocks with similar carvings can be found in other Cherokee places, such as Georgia, and all of them are estimated to be hundreds and hundreds of years old.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dow Oakley

One of Henry Coleman Oakley's sons, Dow , left Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before 1900 and went to live near East Bernstadt and London, in Laurel County, Kentucky. Dow's uncle (Henry's brother) Leonard Henderson Oakley, Jr., lived there with his family.

Dow is shown here with his wife Bessie.

Cherokee research adventures

Besides being busy with the holiday activities, I took some time to explore more about Cherokee heritage. I've been reading some really good books about the culture and history, such as G. Keith Parker's Seven Cherokee Myths, and James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee. I've visited some of the sacred sites and took time to contemplate their significance.

Here, you see Kituhwa, one of the original mother town locations that was lost during the Removal in the late 1830s. The townhouse that held the sacred fire was built upon a 15-20 foot high mound that has been reduced to about six feet, as a result of the years of farming by others. What's left of the mound is the slight green rise visible in front of the wooded hill. This 300 acre river bottom land, which lies along the Tuckaseegee below the towering height of Clingman's Dome, was bought back by the Cherokee in 1996.