Conerly family connection to the Mississippi Choctaws

+2 votes
Does anyone have information linking the Conerly family to the Mississippi Choctaws?

Family lore has said there is a relationship here: and there are aliances with Luke Ward Conerly - but can't find any documented relationship.
WikiTree profile: Luke Conerly
in Genealogy Help by Bill Jennings G2G6 (8.8k points)
I still believe there are Native American connections from the Conerly line. Perhaps not Choctaw, but my understanding is that it has neither been proven nor disproven. It is either family lore or someone's opinion based on their research. This is what keeps me believing until I am otherwise proven wrong: While going through old Conerly pictures (and I do mean old) at home I stumbled across a picture of this beautiful young woman. What struck me about her photo was the small feather sticking out of the back of her head. I have two copies of this picture, one is a full body and one that is just a close up of her face. The feather is very small perhaps 3-4 inches. It's very odd because otherwise she is dressed like anyone else or "white man's" dress. I have tried to find other meanings for one to wear a feather on their head, especially during a time when it was not always welcome to be Indian or have association with one, but haven't found an alternative meaning. I'm not sure who she is because the picture was not labeled. The back has some illegible scribbles and what looks like a child's math homework (perhaps they were  in a bind for paper). So this photograph makes me lean towards the family lore being based on some kind of truth. My DNA also confirms less than 1% Native American blood which would also fit the timeline as our blood has been pretty white-washed over several generations. Granted, my DNA connection could come from another line, however, I have not come across anything to indicate such yet. This lore is very intriguing and the opinions of it being untrue are also compelling.

Side Note: My Conerly lineage comes from my maternal grandfather, but my maternal grandmother was a Jennings. Perhaps we are cousins of sorts.

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Bill, There is no Choctaw relationship.
by Michelle Ladner G2G6 Mach 1 (14.8k points)
selected by Bill Jennings
+1 vote  If you get no other answer.  You can ask the question here.  I do not have a specific answer for you, just another path to the answer.

by Living Butchino G2G6 Mach 4 (41.2k points)
+1 vote

Luke Conerly is my 3rd great grand uncle (if you can follow that). I found this information on the web;

The following is found on page 22 of "Descendants of John and Cullen Conerly." by William A. and Irma Lampton. Printed in 1986.

For several generations there have been countless family records written showing Letitia, wife of Cullen Conerly, as the "daughter of Turner Ward, a Choctaw Tribal Chief, and his wife Socretia" (Also it has been said that Socretia was Choctaw Indian Princess and Turner Ward was a trader with the Indians). We believe, as do others, that this information is erroneous.

Mr. Nicholas Murray, a Conerly descendant, formerly of Hammond, Louisiana, now in North Salt Lake, Utah gives the following reasons why this is in error.

[1) The tribal home of the Choctaws was in Mississippi. Letitia lived and died in North Carolina. If she was any kind of Indian, it would have been, almost certainly, a Cherokee.

(2) There is no record of a Turner Ward ever having lived in Duplin Co., NC. There were, however a number of Wards living in the immediate vicinity of the home of Cullen and Letitia, probably members of the same family from which Letitia sprang.

(3) The Conerlys have always been strong for carrying on family names -- Cullen, Owen, Luke, William, John and so forth. NO Conerly child has ever been named Turner or Socretia.

(4) Turner Ward is supposed to have been a party to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. About the latest possible birth date for Letitia would be 1760, since her son Owen was born in 1777, according to his own Bible, and he had an older brother. Her father, therefore, would have been 90 or more in 1830- hardly likely to be very active.

(5) The first members of the Conerly family came to Mississippi about 1820, settling in the Southern part of the state. Others, apparently just about all of Cullen's children except John followed them within the next ten years. If they had had an influential grandfather in the northern part of the state, such as Turner Ward, why wouldn't some of them have gone there?

(6) No authority is ever given for the Turner-Socretia story. Most people cite Luke Ward Conerly as having provided the information; but no mention of either name, or of any Indian descent, is made in his well-known "History of Pike County", whereas he goes into meticulous detail on other aspects of the family history.

(7) It is always easy to believe something which would, if true, be to our advantage. At the time the Turner-Socretia legend became widespread, it was believed that the US Government was about to pay all Choctaw descendants a large sum of money in compensation for their tribal lands. It is my considered opinion that somebody deliberately invented the Turner Ward ancestry in hopes of getting some of this Indian money - I never heard of anyone ever getting any, incidentally - and the rest of the connection took it up with the same hope.

I wrote to M.M. Wilkinson, who repeats the same statement of Letitia's supposed parentage in his book, "Genealogy of Wilkinson and Kindred Families" asking him for his source. He never answered me.

There was, as it happens, a Luke Ward living eight houses away from Cullen Conerly in the 1784-87 State Census, and also near him in 1790. In the 1782 Tax Roll for Duplin Co, Cullen is listed immediately after Luke Ward Sr., immediately following him is Luke Ward, Jr. It would be my judgment that this would be Letitia's father, in view of the fact that Luke and Luke Ward were names given to a number of her descendants. This is, of course, pure speculation."

The authors concur with the reasons which Mr. Murray has given because we have also checked some of the same things that he mentions above.

We the authors, hope that the following documents will prove to all doubters that Letitia Ward was the daughter of Luke and Bridget Ward.

You will find wills, a map, estate records, relationships, guardianships, to prove the fact that Letitia was daughter of Luke and Bridget Ward. Cullen Conerly also named a son Luke and a later descendant was named Luke Ward Conerly, who wrote "History of Pike County, Mississippi 1798-1876."

Cullen must have married Letitia Ward soon after they moved to Duplin Co., because their first child was born about 1774. The will of Luke Ward dated May 30, 1796, mentions wife Bridget, son Luke, Penny, Elizabeth Pollock and dividing remaining part of my property among my six children.

The author's have made a good documentation , I think. Guess we will have to draw our own conclusions. I do know nothing was ever proven and we sure didn't get any money from the government. Daisy

by Michael Conerly G2G Rookie (250 points)
I too have Turner Ward and Socretia in my family tree.  I came online tonight searching for information on them and came upon this.  My grandfather is Lewis Murray Johnson, he researched the family tree in 1982 and cites the the above mentioned book by Luke Ward Conerly. What I do know is my grandfather received Indian land but gave it back to the reservation.  Socretia is the only American Indian reference in our family tree that dates back to the year 1217. I realize this post is old and hopefully someone will see this.  If so, has there been any other information discovered on Socretia? I'm beyond curious now.

Hi, I've been looking at this for some time and I found this ( these are the Armstrong rolls from 1831 in leflores district however this was in mississippi not North Carolina and a turner ward is listed. This is also after turner has supposedly died. (could this be a son? I don't know) There is another Socretia (sacrita la choctaw is her listed name) and Turner Ward listed as the parents of Nancy Ward on ancestry. Family trees state Socretia died 1850. Nancy married a Thompson he died she relocated to Tangipahoa she then remarried a varnado and is buried on varnado hill. Is it possible the two are connected? There aren't many records I can find on her parentage so there alot of possibilities I also found it strange she was an only child. so I will have to keep searching. I don't know if this is any help but turner ward does pop up again in other family lines.

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