The Dangers of DNA Testing

All my life I’ve been told I have Cherokee ancestry through my Knighten forebears. There are even a few interesting legends about how John L. Knighten escaped the Removal (a decade before he was born) and of family members visiting from the Cherokee “reservation”. I’ve even comments on them some (here). I’ve even commented on a possible connection to President Obama, who is purported to have descended from the first African slave in America though his mother’s line (here). I’m a natural skeptic, and though I wanted to believe my family stories, I wanted to substantiate the claims. Enter’s AncestryDNA test. I spit in the cup, mailed it in, and impatiently awaited the results. And today, I received them.

Sadly, based on this DNA test, I can’t substantiate a claim to be anything other than a plain old white guy. I always thought I was a distantly-multiracial mutt, but I’m just a vanilla cracker. Here is what I learned from my results, based on’s categorizations:

  • Europe West – 53%
  • Scandinavia – 13%
  • Ireland – 12%
  • Great Brittain – 11%
  • Iberian Peninsula – 7%
  • European Jewish –  <1%
  • Finland/ Northwest Russia – <1%
  • Caucasus – 2%

So based on my rank amateur genealogical research, I would have expected the Irish and British results, and I’ve even seen some information that is consistent with the Scandinavian blood. Having a couple of Scottish lines in my family could explain that, and possibly the Iberian markers, given the ancient migration of the Scots (and Irish) from the Iberian Peninsula. But over half of the genetic markers coming from continental Europe? That surprised me more than having trace European Jewish and Rus markers!

So my whole family legendarium is crushed. Not even trace amounts of Native American nor African genetics. I don’t even know how to broach the topic with my family now. I’ll stand as a heretic in their eyes. That Cherokee legend is so ingrained. I’ve had my suspicions over the past couple years, but like Santa Claus, I wanted the stories to be true. Maybe I’ll buy DNA tests for some of my aunts and uncles to see if they get different results. Is this the trap that hoped to ensnare me in?

Elisha James Blevins

As is often the case with genealogy, excellent research has already been done on a particular ancestor, if only you can find it. With regards to my 3rd great-grandfather, Elisha James Blevins, the research has already been done by Robin Sterling. For the sake of posterity, I’ll provide the link to original and a cached copy from the Way Back Machine.

My connection to Clan Douglas

Some time back I became interested in my Scottish roots and discovered that my maternal ancestors, the Blackwoods, were historically associated with Clan Douglas. I understand that normally, Scottish clan association is paternal, but given that my paternal ancestry is Welsh, I was curious if I could actually claim clanship through my mother’s line, so I contacted the Court of the Lord Lyon to enquire.

Armed with this affirmation, I continue down the rabbit hole that is genealogy. 
I have to admit though, that the Blackwood line appears to be a little easier to trace than the Blevins line has proven to be. I have a fairly unbroken line from me to the Blackwoods who settled in North Carolina. The first Blackwood that I have found reference to in American was a William Blackwood who came over with a group of Presbyterians, first to Pennsylvania, and then on to North Carolina.  Here is my line to this gentleman:
Me > Donna Kay Puckett (Blackwood) > Wes Chester (1931-1997) > James Wesley(1884-1939) > James Monroe (1853-1924) > Joseph (1833-1863) > Isaac (1775-1855) > James (1732-1810) > William (1706-1774)
This William Blackwood was the son of Charles Blackwood (b.1680) and Agnes Hunter and was born in Glencarin, Dunfries, Scotland, and christened on 11 August 1706. He married Elizabeth “Betsy” Craige after he had moved to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. They are purported to have immigrated to  Philadelphia 1740 aboard a ship named “Mary William”, but I’ve found no ship of such name, though there were ships named Mary, Mary Ann, and William destined from Northern Ireland to Philadelphia about that time.
To be continued…


Henry Blethyn: apprentice on the Submission

Henry Blethyn is a bit of an enigma to many Blevins researchers. Little is known of his life, but his emigration to the American colonies is well documented. He was an apprentice on William Penn’s ship the Submission, which departed from Liverpool on 5 July 1682.

The Sailing of the Ship “Submission” in the Year 1682, with a True Copy of the Vessel’s Log.
L. Taylor Dickson

The log of the ship “ Submission,” of which the following is a copy, commences the fourth day of the week, sixth day of the seventh month (September) and ends on the seventh day of the week, the twenty-first day of the eighth month, 1682. The vessel at this day being near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which appears by the entry made on the nineteenth day of October, at which time the odor from the pines was noticed, “supposing ourselves not to be within 80 leagues.” Phineas Pemberton in his record states that they arrived in the Choptank, Maryland, on the second day of ninth month, 1682, thus making the voyage in fifty-eight days from port to port, the last days of the passage not being recorded in the log.

As Captain Settle was bound for another port, and the weather being overcast, it is highly probable that upon the twenty-first day of the seventh month he did not know where he was, and therefore did not complete the log.

Many of the passengers remained in Maryland for a considerable time (some of them married there), and then walked to Appoquinimink, the lowest section of New Castle County, about forty miles from the place of landing, and twenty miles south of the established town of New Castle.

The most important colonists on the “Submission,” judging from their respective positions in after-life, were: Phineas Pemberton and Randle (or Randolph) Blackshaw. Pemberton states in his record that the Blackshaws arrived in Appoquinimink on the fifteenth day of eleventh month, 1683. And as James Harrison, Phineas Pemberton, James Clayton, Randle Blackshaw and Ellis Jones with their families were residents of Bucks County in 1684, it is evident that they did not remain in the lower county long. The voyage across the Atlantic had been a most trying one to the passengers, due principally to the severe exactions of the Master, James Settle, but partly from the fact that many of them had over-invested in that commodity of the time known as “servants,” [1] so much so that their funds became exhausted and Randle Blackshaw was compelled to sell in Maryland Eleonore, the wife of Roger Bradbury,[2] together with her three sons, so as to liquidate his indebtedness to the Captain and enable him to reach the Quaker province on the Delaware. Much information can be obtained of these people and of their lives and form of transportation from the Choptank to Bucks County. Of the passengers other than those settled in Bucks County possibly the most interesting to the genealogist are the daughter and step-daughters of Dr. Thomas Wynne, Rebecca Winn and Marjory and Jane Mede. Hannah Logan Smith commits an error when she states that Elizabeth, the second wife of Thomas Wynne, came in this ship with their children, for as her name does not appear in the list of passengers, it is fair to presume she came with her husband in the “Welcome.” This mistake could be easily made when we consider that the vessels made the voyage at the same time. Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Wynne, married first Solomon Thomas, and secondly John Dickinson. Marjory Mede, his step daughter, married Thomas Fisher (whose descendants are numerous), and Jane Mede married and died probably without surviving children. From the Bucks County Friends Record it would appear that Robert Bond died seventh month, sixteenth, 1684; that Jane Lyon married Richard Lundy fourth month, twenty-fourth, 1691, and that Phoebe Blackshaw became the wife of Joseph Kirkbride on the thirteenth day of first month, 1688. Neither of the company’s servants appear on the records, and the name of Jane clif Hodges in Pen1berton’s list looks more like F arclif Hodges, although it may be Francis, but not Harriet as printed in the Pennsylvania Magazine, Vol. IX. There are a number of books and manuscripts in the library of the Pennsylvania Historical Society[3] that throw much light on the lives of these early emigrants, from which much genealogical information could be obtained.

An acct of our passage towards Pennsylvania the passengers Subscribers, went Abord the vessel Submission from the port of Liverpoole on the [5th day of the 7th month] (NOTE: Tuesday, 5 September 1682/Julian, 9/15/1682/Gregorian) 1862. The master’s name James Settle, the mate Samuel Rigg—Brian Fleetwood the Carpenter, Anthony Busshell the cooper, Ellijah Cobham, Thomas Bullock, Peter Travis, John Royle, Thomas Hateley, servants. Henry Blivin, Michael Colon, apprentices.

Free passengers of Lancashire:

James Harrison 54 years
Anna Harrison 58 years
Agnes Harrison 80
Richard Radclif 21
Robert Bond 14
Joseph Steward 14½
Phineas Pembcrton 32½
Phebe Pembcrton 22½
Abigail Pemberton 2
Ralph Pemberton 70
Joseph Mather 18
Joseph Pemberton 16 weeks
Lydia Wharmsby
Elizabeth Bradbury 16
Allis Dickinson
Jane Lyon 16½

Free passengers of Cheshire:

James Clayton 50
Jane Clayton 48
James Clayton 16
Sarah Clayton 14
John Clayton 11
Mary Clayton 8
Joseph Clayton 5
Lydia Cleaton 5
Randulph Blackshaw 60
Allis Blackshaw 43
Phebe Blackshaw 16
Sarah Blackshaw 14
Abraham Blackshaw 10
Jacob Blackshaw 8
Mary Blackshaw 6
Nehemiah Blackshaw 3
Martha Blackshaw 1
His servants:
Roger Bradbury 49
Ellenor Bradbury 46
Jacob Bradbury 18
Martha Bradbury 14
Joseph Bradbury 10
Sarah Bradbury 8
Roger Bradbury 2
From Wales:
Ellis Jones 45
Jane Jones 40
Barbary Jones 13
Dorothy Jones
Mary Jones 12½
Isaac Jones (4 months)
Rebeckah Winn 20
Jane Made 15
Marjory Mede 11½ 

whole passengers 37, heads 49, hed the owners servants for sale Janeclif Hodges & Ellen Holland.

The Log of the “ Submission. Voyage of the Submission from Liverpool to Pennsylvania 1682.

[Note: a link in the original post to a map of the route has been removed because it is permanently broken]

  • 4-6 (Wednesday, 6 September/Julian – 16 September/Gregorian)1682 about 4 afternoon set sails & came to an anker black Rock about 6 from whence & sent 3 letters by boat one Roger Longworth one for Henry Haydock one for Thomas Jonjois about one in the morning I sail & came that night to an anker about 7 betwixt Hollyhead and Beaumorris
  • 5-7 (Thursday, 7 September/Julian, 17 September/Gregorian) about 12 in the morning set sails & the wind came south & put us a little to the north till about 10 in the morning then it came no-west & we came about Hollyhead & left sight of it yt night 
  • 6-8 (Friday, 8 September/Julian, 18 September/Gregorian) that night over agt Waterford fair wether
  • 7-9 (Saturday, 9 September/Julian, 19 September/Gregorian) A misty day Becalmed
  • 1-10 (Sunday, 10 September/Julian, 20 September/Gregorian) A clear day the wind easterly in the morning on east Waterford
  • 2-11 (Monday, 11 September/Julian, 21 September/Gregorian) A fair day wind easterly at 10 in ye morning on east Kingssale
  • 3-12 (Tuesday, 12 September/Julian, 22 September/Gregorian) in the forenoon left sight of Cape Clear
  • 4-13 (Wednesday, 13 September/Julian, 23 September/Gregorian) the wind south-westerly
  • 5-14 (Thursday, 14 September/Julian, 24 September/Gregorian) Wind S W that day we spoke with A ship from East India bound for London, that we went about 75 leagues from the Capes
  • 6-15 (Friday, 15 September/Julian, 25 September/Gregorian) becalmed
  • 7-16 (Saturday, 16 September/Julian, 26 September Gregorian) A high wind much westerly that day we saw at A distance A whale
  • 1-17 (Sunday, 17 September/Julian, 27 September/Gregorian) A high wind westerly in the afternoon A whale came neare us & appeared fair to us & followed us some time
  • 2-18 (Monday, 18 September/Julian, 28 September/Gregorian) The wind much westerly about 12 in the night there arose A great storm that day were forced to take of the main top & to lay the ship by for about 10 hours the sea was exceedingly high ye waves ran as high as the main yards but we received little damage
  • 3-19 (Tuesday, 19 September/Julian, 29 September/Gregorian) in the afternoon the wind S west
  • 4-20 (Wednesday 20 September/Julian, 30 September/Gregorian) about four in the morning the wind n west the day fair
  • 5-21(Thursday, 21 September/Julian, 1 October/Gregorian) Wind N W day cold
  • 6-22 (Friday, 22 September/Julian, 2 October/Gregorian) Wind N W very cold & stormy
  • 7-23 (Saturday, 23 September/Julian, 3 October/Gregorian) Wind N W very cold & stormy
  • 1-24 (Sunday, 24 September/Julian, 4 October/Gregorian) Wind N W a calm day & cleare
  • 2-25 (Monday, 25 September/Julian, 5 October/Gregorian) A calm day & cleare
  • 3-26 (Tuesday, 26 September/Julian, 6 October/Gregorian) becalmed most of the day in the afternoon wind S W in 48 degrees 31 minutes no latitude
  • 4-27 (Wednesday, 27 September/Julian, 7 October/Gregorian) The wind westerly at night wind high in 48 degrees & 20 minutes about 15 degrees in longitude from the Cape
  • 5-28 (Thursday, 28 September/Julian, 8 October/Gregorian) The wind westerly till evening no-east
  • 6-29 (Friday, 29 September/Julian, 9 October/Gregorian) Westerly and cold
  • 7-30 (Saturday, 30 September/Julian, 10 October/Gregorian) about 11 in the forenoon we saw a ship about 12 we saw 14 ? one company about 3 in the afternoon we saw a ship all supposed to be a French ship
  • 1-1,8mos (Sunday, 1 October/Julian, 11 October/Gregorian) the wind N W at night was high & the sea very [—?]
  • 2-2 (Monday, 2 October/Julian, 12 October/Gregorian) the sea] very rough the wind high about 4 in the [—?] dyed Abraham the son of Randulph Blackshaw about 6 in the morning A great head sea broke over the ship & staved the boat & took the most part of it away, broke up the main hatches that were both nailed & corked & took them away that they were not seen where they went, broke the boat’s mast & hyst that were lashed in the mid ship, broke of the gunnell head in the midship & broke the forre shet & took severall things of the decks & severall things that were in the boat it cast betwix decks. At 9 in the morning the boy was put overboard, about 4 in the afternoon A great sea fell on our Rudder & broke it about 1 yard or Something more from the head, was again pieced as well as it cold that nigl1t—not being discovered until about 10 at night & was made pretty firm the next day
  • 3-3 (Tuesday, 3 October/Julian, 13 October/Gregorian) The Sea rough
  • 4-4 (Wednesday, 4 October/Julian, 14 October/Gregorian) The Sea indeferent high the wind calme
  • 5-5 (Thursday, 5 October/Julian, 15 October/Gregorian) The wind No-E.
  • 6-6 (Friday, 6 October/Julian, 16 October/Gregorian) The day faire wind easterly
  • 7-7 (Saturday, 7 October/Julian, 17 October/Gregorian) day faire wind N E. . 
  • 1-8 (Sunday, 8 October/Julian, 18 October/Gregorian) A fresh gale N, we Saw a whale. . 
  • 2-9 (Monday, 9 October/Julian, 19 October/Gregorian) faire wether and wind, hundreds of porpoises about the ship some leaped high out of the water and fol lowed the ship about an hour
  • 3-10 (Tuesday, 10 October/Julian, 20 October/Gregorian) faire wether and Wind, this morning we saw another great school of porpoises in 30 degrees 57 minutes no latitude
  • 4-11 (Wednesday, 11 October/Julian, 21 October /Gregorian)The day faire, the wind East this day we spoke with a New England ship bound for Lisbourne
  • 5-12 (Thursday, 12 October/Julian, 22 October/Gregorian) The wind Southerly extraordinary hot
  • 6-13 (Friday, 13 October/Julian, 23 October/Gregorian) in the morning the wind S. E. with raine from 8 in morning to 4 in the afternoon that day was scene in the great raine at the ship’s side blood half compas of the ship
  • 7-14 (Saturday, 14 October/Julian, 24 October/Gregorian) at twelve in the morning it began to raine and continued showering all day, the sea rough, the wind northerly and N.N.E.
  • 1-15 (Sunday, 15 October/Julian, 25 October/Gregorian) the wind easterly the day faire. winds and wether good in 37 : 46 minutes latitude and 31 de 48 minutes Longitude
  • 2-16 (Monday, 16 October/Julian, 26 October/Gregorian) day and wind faire. At evening it began to lighten & continued
  • 3-17 (Tuesday, 17 October/Julian, 27 October/Gregorian) lightened all day & night but little raine to us
  • 4-18 (Wednesday, 18 October/Julian, 28 October/Gregorian) faire this morning the wind being west we smelled the pines, supposing ourselves not to be within 80 leagues
  • 5-19 (Thursday, 19 October/Julian, 29 October/Gregorian) this day faire till evening it begun to blow wind S W
  • 6-20 (Friday, 20 October/Julian, 30 October/Gregorian) raine some pte of the day.


  1. Many of those registered as servants appear to be closely related to and quite the equal of their masters, and had been influenced to emigrate on account of the liberal inducements offered by the Proprietor; for even before this time we find in the Upland court records the sale of William Still, tailor, for four years to Captain Edmund Cantwell. And a short time after this the clergyman at New Castle in a letter states that they have lost their schoolmaster, but that he can be replaced, as he learns that a vessel is shortly to arrive, when he will go to the dock and buy one. And it is also stated that no less a person than a distinguished signer of the Declaration of Independence was sold in his youth as a servant and after the expiration of his time taught school.
  2. As the name of Bradbury does not appear among the residents of Bucks County it is to be presumed that the entire family remained in Maryland.
  3. The most interesting are the records of Phineas Pernberton, printed in Volume IX of the Pennsylvania Magazine, and his book of ear-marks of the cattle and horses made in 1684.


The moral right to lands lost in conquest

I’ll not get into an academic discussion of the issue of whether or not various Native American tribes truly own the land their ancestors once occupied. The article below more than sufficiently deals with that, but I’d like to approach it from a layman’s perspective.

‘Do Indians Rightfully Own America?’:
By Walter Olson

Bryan Caplan at Econlog revisits an old libertarian chestnut about land ownership, and following the lead of Murray Rothbard analyzes it in a priori fashion with little attention to the devices that Anglo-American law long ago evolved to adjudicate claims of ancient title, such as statutes of limitations and repose, laches, and adverse possession. But in fact we don’t need to consider these questions in a historical and empirical vacuum. Not only has Indian title been the subject of an extensive legal literature since the very start of the American experiment — much of it written by scholars and reformers highly sympathetic toward Native Americans and their plight — but Indian land claims resurged in the 1970s to become the subject of a substantial volume of litigation in American courts, casting into doubt (at least for a time) the rightful ownership of many millions of acres, until the past few years, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally brought down the curtain on most such claims.

The short answer to the question “Do Indians Rightfully Own America” is, “No, they don’t.” Last year I told a part of that story in Chapter 10 of my book Schools for Misrule, focusing on the modern litigation and its origins among advocates in law reviews, legal services groups and liberal foundations, while UCLA law professor Stuart Banner lays out a much richer and more comprehensive story, concentrating on events before the present day, in his excellent 2007 book How the Indians Lost Their Land.
I’m grateful to Richard Reinsch of Liberty Fund’s Liberty Law Blog for crafting a response to Caplan that draws at some length on my arguments in Schools for Misrule. The history may surprise you: it helps explain, on the one hand, how Indian casinos came to dot the land, and, on the other, how land claims by American tribes have emerged as a flashpoint for the assertion of human-rights claims against the United States by United Nations agencies. You can read Reinsch’s account here.

‘Do Indians Rightfully Own America?’ is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Throughout history, force has been the method of establishing the laws of the land, whether good or ill. The white Europeans and their descendants, often though force[1], displaced the native populations of the Americas. Incidents like the Trail of Tears show what depths of evil were conducted against the Native Americans in order to take their lands. This resulted in a near-genocide of the Cherokees. These are dark periods in American history.

I do not however, believe that the descendants of those indians who were wronged have a right to the land that their ancestors possessed. This is an especially painful conclusion considering that I claim Cherokee ancestry[2]. In my mind, the Native Americans have no more claim over the lands lost to them than the Welsh[3] and Cornish have for the lands their ancestors lost in the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Too much time has passed to return the land to what might be considered its rightful owners. Whether it is moral or not, might most often makes right, and both indigenous groups lost due to the overwhelming might of the invaders[4].

There is a happy story to tell of one group of Native Americans who were able to game the system in their favor. After the removal of the Cherokee from their native lands, some of them were able to hide out in the Great Smoky Mountains and evade the fate that waited them. Their story can be found elsewhere[5], so I’ll not diminish it by retelling it here. For me the best part of the story is how, through the ingenuity of chief William Holland Thomas[6] (the ‘adopted’ white son of Yonaguska), they were able to buy the land that would become the Qualla Boundary, and thus securing the homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. While other tribes were fighting to maintain land they held under precarious treaties, the Eastern Cherokees owned their land outright, and generations before their western counterparts, they were U.S. citizens entitled to the same rights and privileges as their white neighbors.

My point in all of this is that we cannot undo the past. We can’t depend on courts to make things right, either. We have to, like the Eastern Cherokee, work within whatever system system we find ourselves bound to be able to create the future we desire.


[1] Not always through force, though. The dilemma of individuals selling lands that were held to be tribal possessions was such an issue that the Cherokee Nation enacted a blood law, where those found selling lands within the Cherokee Nation were sentenced to death.

[2] I suppose my claim to Cherokee heritage can be seen as similar to Elizabeth Warren’s (see here, here, here, and here), but I do not claim to be Cherokee. I am “American by birth, and Southern by the grace of God“. Also, I am not a proponent of white people playing indian. I wore “regalia” while volunteering at the Native American pavilion of the Panoply Arts Festival several years ago, and it was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. I’m just too pale to pull it off, and I don’t have an emotional connection to a Cherokee heritage that (if genuine) has been lost to my family for generations.

(You can read more on the topic of wannabees/undocumented Cherokees here. Note the link to the statement by Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith is broken. A good link for it is here. See also a paper published by the Cherokee Nation titled Stealing Sovereignty. The three federally recognized Cherokee tribes seem to treat Cherokee-ness as a brand that they have exclusive rights to. Maybe they do, but state departments like the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission would conclude otherwise.)

[3] I have Welsh ancestors as well, but it doesn’t draw the ire of the Cymry when I claim that heritage.

[4] An argument could be made that the same culture (Anglo-Saxon/English) decimated both the Native Americans and the native Britons, but I’ll not poke that hornet’s nest here.

[5] If you ever have the opportunity to visit Cherokee, NC, I recommend seeing Unto these Hills, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the Oconaluftee Indian Village , and buying something from the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual.

[6] He may have been the only chief that did not have any Cherokee blood, but he was by no means the only chief of the Cherokee or the rest of the Five Civilized Tribes that had more european than native blood coursing through his veins. See also John Ross(Guwisguwi), William McIntosh(Tunstunuggee Hutkee), and William Weatherford(Lamochattee).

More Long Hunter Trivia

Another tidbit to add to the William Blevins Long Hunter legend, from the Historical Melungeons Blog:

Tennessee History:

  • When Virginia was partitioned in 1663, Tennessee became a western part of Carolina; thirty years later a further division left Tennessee within the jurisdiction of North Carolina. Ideas about the region remained vague well into the middle of the eighteenth century. The Upper Tennessee Valley, which Virginians thought was within their boundaries, was not explored until 1748, when Dr. Thomas Walker, sent out by the Loyal Land Company of Virginia, penetrated the territory to the present Kingsport. Two years later Walker with a party of Long Hunters (probably already familiar with the region) came down the upper Holston Valley, followed well-beaten bison trails westward, and crossed the Clinch River. From this point Walker and his wilderness scouts pushed north into Kentucky through the great mountain pass which he later named Cumberland Gap in honor of the Duke of Cumberland. 
  • When the French and Indian War broke out, the Overhill Cherokee petitioned the colonial governments of Virginia and South Carolina to build and strongly garrison a fort in their country. Virginia acted first Major Andrew Lewis led a party into the Overhill country and built a fort near Chota, the Cherokee capital. The South Carolinians, refusing to cooperate with the Virginians, set about building a fort of their own. The work was pushed to completion in 1757 by British regulars and militia from South Carolina, under the command of Captain Paul Demore. Named Fort Loudoun in honor of the Earl of Loudoun, commander of the British forces in America at the time, this was the first Anglo-American fort garrisoned west of the Alleghenies. The Virginia fort at Chota was never occupied. 
  • No sooner had the garrison taken possession than traders, artisans, blacksmiths, and small farmers began settling in the region protected by the fort. Many of them brought their wives, and “undoubtedly the first child born in the West to parents of the Anglo-Saxon race saw the light of day in the little community.” Fort Loudoun remained the westernmost English outpost for three years. Abandoned at the outbreak of the Cherokee War, it was reoccupied by the North Carolinians after the British victory of 1761. Trade with the Cherokee was resumed and white men could again travel unmolested through the Overhill region.
  •  Continued here:
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    William Blevins, Long Hunter

    One of the legendary ancestors of the Blevins family in early colonial America was William Blevins, the Long Hunter. Since I started researching my family’s genealogy, I have read scattered bits and pieces about him. My ultimate goal is to determine whether or not my line descended from this man. There are lots of stories of William Blevins on different genealogy sites, but I will attempt to stick with published sources. I’ll try to piece the complete story together as best as possible in a series of posts.

    Note: Despite some family claims, I don’t know if I am a descendent of this William Blevins or not. I just can’t fill in enough gaps to substantiate the claim at this point.

    Which William Blevins?

    One of the problems when researching William Blevins is knowing which “William” Blevins the information is pointing to. It seems like almost every generation in my family has had a William Blevins or two. This goes back to William Blethyn, Bishop of Llandaff in Wales, and many generations before him. Even in my immediate line, my father was Roy William Blevins, his father was Quillen William Blevins, his grandfather was William Smith Blevins… I think you are starting to get the picture.

    There are even multiple William Blevinses that were Long Hunters. The William Blevins we are examining had a son named William who was also a Long Hunter, and later in life was known as “Old Bill”. This second William was purported to be a cruel man that would hang the meat from his hunts from the rafters of his house, but not allow his wife to have them, instead giving them to a mistress that he kept on his property (Williams, 2003). The William Blevins that I want to analyse here was a contemporary of  a couple other men that are a little more well known: Elisha Walden (also Walling, Wallen), Lt. Henry Timberlake, and one of the most famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone (Draper, 1998). William Blevins was married to Agnes, Elisha Walden’s sister. Elisha may also have been the son-in-law of a different William Blevins, married to that William’s daughter, Mary (Withers, 1895, Luce, 1995). Other sources give Elisha’s wife’s name as Catherine Elizabeth, the daughter of a John Blevins (Wallin, ). According to Luce:

    Within the Walden family there is a tradition that the Waldens left New Jersey and went along the Pennsylvania wagon trail across western Maryland and into Virginia accompanied by Blevinses from Rhode Island. This is very plausible as we know this was the common route of people moving south from the New England states.

    There is also a bit of confusion as to who this William Blevins father was. Some say he was named John, others Jack, but again from Luce’s text:

    Colonel John Sevier, writing in his journal, referred to Jack (John) and Will Blevins as having hunted along the Obias River, in what is now Fentree County, Tennessee.

    The Long Hunt

    The Long Hunt was a historical period of early American History that occurred in the 1760s. This was a period when very few settlers had ventured into what is now Kentucky and Tennessee. The men of the Long Hunt were the kind of pioneers that legend have been based on. William Blevins was one of these such men. There are several stories of his adventures in the wild. Here is one account recorded by O. Taylor:

    There is no name on the hunter roll more familiar than the name of Blevins. Once William Blevins had to go through the mountains to salt his cattle. he came across them in a small clearing and was just in time to see them stampeded by a panther that had just killed a small heifer. As soon as the panther saw Blevins it leaped for him and succeeded in reaching his belt, which it tore from him, but with a dextrous swing of his knife, Blevins freed himself, the beast paying the penalty for its rash deed (Taylor, 1909).

    Record of one of the early hunts is recorded in T. Belue’s The Long Hunt:

    In 1761 Elisha Wallen, a tall, strongly built Long Hunter in his early thirties, led a score of like-minded men from the Smith River in Virginia to the Holston Valley. Jack and William Blevins, William Pittman, Henry Skaggs, Charles Cox, William Neuman, and William Harrison rode with Wallen. They skirted the Clinch and set up camp on Wallen’s Creek near the Cumberland Gap and slew game prodigiously for nearly two years. Wallen and his men returned to the region in 1763 for their fall hunt, this time pushing through the gap and into southeastern Kentucky, hunting and trapping along the Rockcastle, going as far as Crab Orchard. On both hunts the Virginians had reaped far beyond their expectations. Frontier Virginian John Redd, who knew Wallen well, said that “he always returned home from his hunts with his horses heavy laden with skins and furs”. (Belue, 1996).

    Watauga Purchase

    Image courtesy of Carter County History.

    The next major event in American history to which William Blevins was party was the Watauga Purchase, a contract between Charles Robertson, trustee for the Wataugah Settlers, and the Cherokee Nation:

    This indenture, made the 19th day or March, 1775, by O-con-os-to-ta, Chief Warrior and First Representative of the Cherokee Nation or Tribe of Indians, and Attaculleculley and Savanucah, otherwise Coronoh, for themselves and the rest of the whole Nation, being aborigines and sole owners by occupation from the beginning of the time of the lands on the waters of Holston and Wataugah Rivers, and other lands thereunder belonging, of the one part, and Charles Robertson, of the settlement of Wataugah, of the other part, Witnesseth, &c. “The consideration was “the sum of two thousand pounds, lawful money of Great Brittain, in hand paid.” The deed embraced “all that tract, territory, or parcel of land, on the waters of the Wataugah, Holston, and Great Canaway or New River; beginning on the south or south-west side of the Holston River, Six English miles above Long Island, in said river; thence a direct line near a south course to the ridge which divides the waters of Wataugah from the waters of Nonachuckeh; thence along the courses of various said ridge nearly a southeast course to the Blue Ridge or line dividing North Carolina along the Virginia line to Holston River; thence down the meanders of Holston River to the first station, including all the waters of Wataugah, part of the Waters of Holson, and the head-branches of New River or Grate Canaway, agreeable to the bounds aforesaid, to said Charles Robertson, his heirs and assigns, ” etc. “And also the said Charles Robertson, his heirs and assigns, shall and may, peaceably and quietly, have, hold, posess and enjoy said premises, without let, trouble, hinderance, or molestation, interruption and denial, of them, the said Oconostota and the rest, or any of the said Nation.”

    Signed in the Presence of John SevierWm. Bailey Smith, Jesse Benton, Tillman Dixon, William Blevins, Thomas Price, Jas. Vann, Linguister.
    Oconostota, and his X mark (Seal), Attacullecully, and his X mark (Seal), Tennessy Warrior, his X mark (Seal), Willinawaugh, his X mark (Seal) (Dixon, 1989).

    The Revolution

    Being of Welsh descent, one might assume that William Blevins might not have a strong allegiance to the British Crown. History doesn’t record the reason, but whatever his reason, in 1777, he renounced his allegiance to the Crown:

    I do Swear or Affirm that I do renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the Third, King of Great Britain, his Heirs and Successors, and that I will be Faithful and bear true allegiance to the Common Wealth of Virginia, as a Free and Independent State and that I will not at any time, do, or Cause to be done, any matter or thing that will be prejudicial or Injurious to the Freedom and Independence thereof, as declared by Congress, and also, that I will discover and make known to some one Justice of the Peace for said State, all Treasons or Traitorous Conspiracies which I know or hereafter shall know to be Formed against this or any of the United States of America, so help me God. James Blevins, Jr., William Heard,  Julas Scruggs, William Blevins Jr., Ignatius Sims William Blevens, Sr., Joseph Newman, Daniel Newman, Samuel Blevins, Whilliby Blevins, Elisha Walden, John Blevins, Dillion Blevins (Wallin, 1990).

    More soon…


    [Update 26 May 2021] I just realized it has been almost a decade since I left this post with the statement “More soon…”. so here is what I will update for now: (1) Links have been updated to point to InfoGalactic instead of Wikipedia (my personal preference), (2) the references no longer redirect to the defunct Amazon affiliate program (I’ll link them to elsewhere since Amazon has plenty of money as it is), and (3) added the marker for the Wautauga Purchase from the Carter County History website.