Any records indicating Mary Jane Downey was of American Indian Descent?

+2 votes
365 views
Older family members state that Great Grandmother Downey was of American Indian Heritage - simply trying to verify such either way.  Thank you in advance for any guidance/assistance you may be able to offer.
WikiTree profile: Mary Jane Downey
in Genealogy Help by Michael Christian G2G Rookie (200 points)

2 Answers

+2 votes
It looks like you've very well traced some of her heritage back to the British Isles. Oftentimes, a presumed American Indian/Native ancestor turns out to be Scottish, Irish, or Welsh. These people frequently have straight dark hair, and either have a slightly dark complexion or end up tanning as they do farm work in the more southern parts of North America. Over time, the story passed down that "Granny was as tan as an Indian" becomes "Granny was an Indian."

Depending on which area of the US you think her Indian heritage may have originated, a paper trail may be sparse. Since civil and church records for whites are much more common, your quickest start would be to prove or disprove British Isles heritage for her ancestors who you are unsure about.
by Erin Breen G2G6 Pilot (222k points)
Here is a Downing (varient of Downey) link that you might find useful:

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/index/DOWNING

Use keywords in the search to, hopefully, get some answers.  Make sure you scroll down after putting in your search, as the results are further down the page.
+1 vote
Review census records to determine if either of her parents was deemed "mulatto" prior to 1850.  This occurred in my family but after the Trail of Tears those who managed to hide out (and not be taken) were listed as "white" after 1850 further blurring the lines and making it impossible to find your ancestors.

Native American men assumed last names many times.  This was encouraged to make them appear 'more civilized'.  I found out that my family stories were true.  

You will also want to check the rolls of the Cherokee Nation, the Dawes Packets, and the Indian Census that began in 1855 (you can access on Ancestry) to see if any of your family members petitioned for benefits/recognition from the chief.
by Tina Mitchell G2G1 (1.1k points)

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