How do I prove or disprove that my great great grandmother was Native American?

+9 votes

I am trying to determine how I prove or disprove whether Keziah Hullfish Geise was a Lenape Indian.

I have been told by various family members that she was but I have no proof. She was born in Mercer County, New Jersey but lived in Warren County for many years after getting married.

Any help or guidance you could give me on this is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Bertha B. Buttner
WikiTree profile: Keziah Geise
in Genealogy Help by BeBe Buttner G2G3 (3.4k points)
edited by Keith Hathaway
Some people take a DNA test.
Some people do; including me. Both my mother's and father's families swore we had Native American heritage. So I recently took the auDNA test. Guess what? 100% European.
Same here, Shirley, always knew we had NA blood.  Many tales.  DNA said no!
I can't afford to have one of these tests done. Is their another way??

Have you searched the Dawes Rolls or Guion Miller Rolls? I don't know if Lenape Indians are in these rolls, but it might not hurt to check.

In DNA, absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence.  The genes from a long ago First Nations ancestor might just not have been handed down -- half the genetic material is 'lost' in each generation.  We are descended from all our ancestors even though we no longer have DNA from some of them.

A few months ago, my FTDNA ethnicity results said 100% European.  More recently, it changed to 98% European and a few trace other ethnicities including North and Central America.  This aligns more with the Eurogenes results at GEDmatch.

The area in question is settled by Europeans in 1679 to 1695. Contested at least as early as 1650.

Major Nanticoke-Lenni-Lenape reservation prior to 1827 is in Burlington, New Jersey though the Nanticoke-Lenni-Lenape are from the Maryland area originally.

The major problem to address is how to disprove she was European. That largely comes down to disproving that her ancestors were European, and you can get the disproof of her being descendant of indigenous people by showing that all her ancestors originate from Europe. If she is descendant of only Europeans then it is likely that her ancestors can be documented back to their immigration and across the sea to Europe; this is because Europeans are considered people prior to 1879 whereas natives were not, so it is easiest to find Europeans in the census and in other legal documents.

A complication in all this is that women are less documented due to their legal status as closer to property than personhood during the period of time in question. The documents for European women are quite a bit sparser, but their documentation is generally greater than the European document of indigenous people.

The fact that her death cert says she's buried in a graveyard where she has no headstone would imply the possibility of her being indigenous or at least poor.

Keziah is a Hebrew name. Hullfish is a name common to people identified as white and is particularly common to people in the New Jersey area:

Good luck.

6 Answers

+3 votes





Keziah Hullfish

mentioned in the record of John Gise and Keziah Hullfish

Name John Gise
Birth Date 1823
Age 26
Spouse's Name Keziah Hullfish
Spouse's Birth Date 1830
Spouse's Age 19
Event Date 05 Jul 1849
Event Place Trenton, Mercer, New Jersey
Spouse's Father's Name Mayor Hullfish

Citing this Record

"New Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985," , FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 August 2015), John Gise and Keziah Hullfish, 05 Jul 1849; citing 584,571


New Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985

Indexing Project (Batch) Number M02521-9
System Origin New Jersey-EASy
GS Film number 584571
Reference ID Pg. 252a


by Chris Mckinnon G2G6 Pilot (370k points)
+2 votes
BeBe, as people have commented, you should get an autosomal DNA test. If your parents or grandparents are living, you should test them, depending on whether Keziah  is up your mom or dad's side.  The testing sites have sales occasionally and offer the test for around $79.  I think ancestryDNA has one (that ends today) for $20 off.
by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (424k points)
Sorry, even at a discount, I can't afford to have the test done. I am living on a limited budget. :(
Through Facebook genes for good free if participate
+1 vote
I strongly recommend joining this group on facebook-
by Meridith Burwood G2G6 (6.1k points)
Thank you, I have requested to join!
+1 vote
The Dawes Roll only applies to members of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw, and Seminole tribes living in Indian Territory prior to 1896.  The Guion Miller Roll was for Cherokee (and their descendants) who lived in the Cherokee Nation prior to Removal.  (About 60,000 non-Cherokee applied to Miller and were rejected. Their applications are on Fold3 and contain a wealth of genealogical information.) The only real way to confirm a Native American ancestor is tracing your family the old-fashioned person-to-person method until you find an ancestor who lived in a time and place that Native Americans were living, and then determining whether that person had a connection to that tribe or nation.
That's basically about all you can get regarding N/A ancestry. The "Rolls" were actually a Census done by the government to keep track of Native Americans--separate from the whites. Many tribal people avoided any contact with government officials, so this "census" could hardly be accurate. Neither for sure could the information given was true, either.

The other way you can prove ancestry is a DNA test, but don't expect that to be accurate either. For one thing, they are not emphasizing that DNA test can only trace the MALE  Y chromosome to get the paternal line. That means you have to be a male to trace the paternal side. If you suspect your male side was N/A you need a male relative to submit a sample.

. When white man first came to this country in the early years, there weren't many single WHITE women. N/A women could be traded, bought, and sold. It's the reason why I have Cherokee blood. One of my family names is in the Cherokee Rolls.
+1 vote
The FamilySearch person details seem to imply that Keziah's father  was the Mayor, rather than it being his first name.  Do others get that same impression?

This photo

seems to show pictures of all the mayors of Trenton, though i can't read any names.

Keep following all the clues - things do eventually get revealed!
by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (155k points)
edited by Shirlea Smith
but i don't see Hullfish on this list:,_New_Jersey

I have seen it spelled Major and Mayor. However I am quite sure the name is Major. It is spelledthat way on his probate records and also on Keziah's death certificate. I don't see a way to post or attach copies of either.

+1 vote
I just found out about 'Genes for Good' on Facebook. Once you answer a certain number of questions, you can get a free DNA spit kit.

You can also try this site to see if you may qualify:
by Valerie Sizemore G2G2 (2.6k points)

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