Cherokee living in Casey County, Kentucky in the 1880s-1900s?

+7 votes
My grandmother told me that, when her father was young, he spent a lot of time in the woods with local group of Cherokee in Casey County, Kentucky.  According to my great-grandfather, his mother was "full-blooded Cherokee."  His mother died when he was young, so I'm not sure if he actually remembered her, or if everyone just told him that his mother was Cherokee.  (He could have been as young as 1 year and as old as 9 years, since I have been unable to find a record of her death, but I do know when his father married his step-mother.)

My great-grandfather was Henry Jefferson Luttrell (1879-1954).  His mother was Elizabeth "Betty" Meeks Luttrell (abt. 1819 - after 1880 but before 1889), who was the daughter of James Meeks (abt. 1824 - abt. 1869) and a mother whose name is really inconsistent on censuses (Dethis or Dether or Delhis or Dethis or Deathes or Delie, perhaps Gehlis or Delilah or Delia?).  Her mother was born about 1819 and died after 1870 (probably before 1880).  She appeared on Casey County censuses with her husband and children in 1860 and 1870.  James only appeared on 1860 and I found a record at one point indicating that he died in 1869, though I now cannot find this record.

I know about the Cherokee men Red Bird and Willie, who lived not terribly far away from Casey County, but that was more than a century earlier.  I want to know if anyone has any information about a group of Cherokee (possibly including aunts and uncles or other extended family of my great-grandfather) who would have been living in this time and place.  It might help me to establish my Native American roots.  

I recently sent off my DNA, so I hope that might help solve the mystery, too, and could at least tell me the minimum and maximum genetic distance I am from my closest Native American ancestor.  In the meantime, I hope to learn as much as I can about the history of Native Americans in that area of Kentucky, since it might help me figure out where this branch of my family tree comes from.
in Genealogy Help by Susannah Rolfes G2G5 (5.8k points)
The Cherokee never had permanent settlements in Kentucky.  Their communities were in the area where Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina come together.  They claimed the area that is now Kentucky as hunting grounds along with the Chickasaw and the Shawnee.  All  Cherokee claims to Kentucky lands were ceded before the Revolution.  The 1851 census of Cherokee East of the Mississippi showed only one Cherokee family living in Kentucky; they were named Coleman and were living in Harrison County.
I'm not sure I explained my question properly. What I am asking about is a community of people living in Casey County who were ethnically Cherokee, not whether or not there was a tribal claim to land in Kentucky in the 1880s-1900s.

These people would have owned or rented farms as individuals, and may have all lived near each other as a community. I know they were there, I just don't know who they were or how to identify them (other than looking at ethnicity on the censuses, which are completely unreliable for that, since so many people claimed to be White in order to protect themselves, plus so many census takers were careless or barely literate enough for the job).

I don't know if there was a small community or possibly a road where most of them lived, and I don't know how many households it was. It might have been extremely small, perhaps only 2 or 3 families.

I'm hoping someone can tell me anything I don't know about them. I do know that there were a few (or more than a few) Cherokee families living there at that time, from my grandmother, and that they liked to spend time in the woods as a group. It might even have been a small group of men who were all part Cherokee who got together to go hunting and camping whenever they could get away.

My grandma's and great-grandma's experience was that my great-grandfather was always going off into the woods, even long after there was no one left to go there with, and this was his explanation (that he grew up spending a lot of time with the local Cherokee in the woods). He was an honest and serious man, so I know he didn't make that up. The only question is whether my grandmother interpreted his meaning correctly.

I wonder if these families were related to Red Bird or Willie, two Cherokee men who were murdered in Clay County, Kentucky in 1797. They were accepted by the community enough that their murderer was convicted and hanged (in a time when Native Americans were being legally hunted and killed elsewhere).

The Trail of Tears did not affect any Cherokee families who were living in Kentucky, so they would have still been there, intermarrying with everyone else, and disappearing as a distinct population over time.

These are the people I am looking for, not a village of people living in a traditional way and claiming tribal ownership of land. These would be people who adapted, but still kept some traditions alive.

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