More Vann clean-up - Joseph Vann, husband of Wah-li

+2 votes
663 views

The profile for Joseph Vann seems to combine information on more than one man.  There is no evidence that Joseph Vann, husband of War-li, was ever called “John”; many web sites seem to conflate him with the older “Trader”  John (likely an uncle or cousin) and younger John (son of “Trader” John).  Believed to have been born about 1730-1735, North Carolina, the son of Edward Vann and wife Mary Barnes.   Almost nothing is known of him.  He was an interpreter at Sycamore Shoals in 1775.  [Brown’s “Old Frontiers”; from Jerry Clark: In 1770 Alexander Cameron, deputy Royal agent to the Cherokees, wrote to his boss, John Stuart, that John Vann had been hired as the new "Linquister," i.e. Interpreter, to replace the recently deceased John Watts, Sr....  In 1777 another Interpreter, Joseph Vann was at the notorious Sycamore Shoals land sale by the Cherokees known as the Henderson Purchase; another attendee was the famous Daniel Boone.] A letter written by another trader, Robert Due/Dews n 1779 to Indian Agent Alexander Cameron makes it clear that John and Joseph Vann were two different men.  Quoting Jerry Clark: During the Revolutionary War in 1779 there were a number of white men residing among the Chickamauga Band of Cherokees, who were reported by Indian trader Robert Due to Alexander Cameron to have joined war parties about to attack the American frontier. One was John Vann and another was Joseph Vann  [transcribed by Jerry Clark, copy of original letter at National Archives]. There is no mention of Joseph Vann after the 1779 letter.  By 1800 Wah-li was married to Clement Vann, believed to be Joseph’s younger brother.   In 1810 Wah-li and daughter Nancy Vann told the Moravians that James Vann’s father’s name was Joseph. 

Joseph probably came into the Cherokee Nation at the end of the Cherokee War;  Georgia colonial records place a Joseph Vann on the Savannah River by 1766, with a wife and three children, and there are other lands records in the area but no proof/evidence that this Joseph was the man in the Cherokee Nation.  It’s possible that this IS the same Joseph with a white wife and family since many white traders had both white and Cherokee families.  Researcher John Strange claims that Joseph had another Cherokee wife who was the mother of  children named Joseph Vann, Jr., Avery, and Mary Vann, and that Joseph Jr. married Wah-li’s half-sister Sallie Hughes but there is no evidence to support this claim  (Sallie would have been more than 10 years older than her husband/nephew so this seems very unlikely, and her son George Waters referred to James Vann as his cousin, not his brother).  Joseph and Wah-li’s son James was reported to be 43 years old at his death in 1809,  placing his birth about 1766.  According to Moravian accounts, James Vann was born in Georgia about twenty-five miles away from the site of his future plantation (in what is now Murray County, GA) and he showed the missionaries his birthplace in 1801. It was not near the Savannah River.   The missionaries met an enslaved black man there who said that he had been brought to the Cherokee Nation some 30 years previous and had lived there with James Vann’s father. 

Died 7 Jan 1781. Indian Territory.      There was no “Indian Territory” in 1781, and there is no documentation to support this death date although it could be correct.

Alternative death: Feb. 21, 1809 Cherokee Nation, SC.   – This is the death date of James Vann, his son

Father: Edward Vann (1720 - 1810).[citation needed] 

Mother: Mary Barnes (1718 - 1748).[citation needed] 

The following children were claimed by a previous version of this profile:[citation needed]

1.      Joseph David Vann (b. 1763).    Unclear who this person is meant to be.  No record of a son “Joseph” or “David”

2.      Alsey Vann Pruitt Rogers (b. 1765).  An account in the Moravian Diaries strongly suggests that Alsey’s maiden name was Fawling

3.      James Clement Vann II (1770 - 1809).   Duplicate of son James Vann

4.      Avery Vann (b. 1780).   Unclear who this is meant to be;  a white man named Avery Vann is thought to be the younger brother of Joseph.  This Avery had a Cherokee son named Avery born 1768; the younger Avery married Peggy McSwain. 

5.      Mary B. Vann Blackburn (1787 - 1850).   Polly Blackburn was the wife of “Rich Joe” Vann, the son of James Vann

Anyone out there with more information or who would like to help?  Joseph seems to have duplicates - Vann-111 and Vann-313.  

WikiTree profile: Joseph Vann
in Genealogy Help by Kathie Forbes G2G6 Pilot (375k points)
edited by Kathie Forbes

4 Answers

+2 votes
not sure if this is of use, in the National Archives, Vann House application as National Historic Place- the info on the application may help with some of the conflicting infos, I think I saw some research cited sources for the info in there as well- top listing on the page- Georgia SP Vann House

https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=Cherokee,%20Joseph%20Vann&rows=20
by Arora Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (112k points)
Great suggestion!  Thank you.  The application is digitized, but unfortunately all it says about family is that his mother was Cherokee and his father "a Scot."
actually did you get to page 23 and 24, It states there that Clement Vann was a Scotish Trader who married a cherokee woman, and then goes into a lot of the history.  also within the docs they discuss Joseph, and a  James, and mentions by same nicname Rich Joe Vann

but if you say is of no help, ok
The document is incorrect.  Clement Vann was the step-father of James Vann, he and his wife had no children, and although someone may have come from Scotland at some point the white Vanns who came into the Cherokee Nation were born in North Carolina.  James Vann who built the house left it to his son, Joseph.
k, sorry was a waste of time
No, not a waste at all.  It’s always worth a look, you can find worthwhile info in some really random places!
+1 vote
I have posted a new bio for Joseph Vann.  The Vann's are a very complicated family (little documentation for the first generations and lots of re-use of the same names), so it could use some more research.  There are also a couple of duplicates of Joseph and son James still out there.
by Kathie Forbes G2G6 Pilot (375k points)
Nice work, Kathryn.  Thanks for all the teasing apart of this knotty mess   

One next step might be to add links from the bio to the profiles of the various people mentioned.
0 votes
by Debbie Ferguson G2G4 (4.1k points)
Interesting, but like many newspaper articles very inaccurate. Among other errors:   John Vann was the first member of the Vann family to come to the Cherokee, followed by nephew Joseph and much later by nephew Clement.  The Vanns came to America in the 1600’s.  Clement had no known Cherokee children.  He was the second husband of Wah-li, who had three children with her first husbad Joseph Vann.
Kathie, what's the most reliable source(s) for the early Vann family?

I don't think there's any single source.  The web site Pioneers Along Southern Trails: John Vann, Trader among the Cherokee - Section One   seems to have compiled the most documents relating to the Vanns who came to North Carolina from Virginia and then moved on to South Carolina.  Little is known for certain about the Vanns who came to the Cherokee Nation before the arrival of the Moravian missionaries and Cherokee agent Return Meigs, both about 1800.  Figuring out Cherokee family connections is often a process of deduction, extrapolation, or elimination from what little is recorded. Based on the information available it's pretty clear that all of the Vanns were related, but not so clear exactly how.  It often seems like the puzzle questions that start like "The man in the red house has a dog.  The man in the green house has a car.  The man with the blue car hates red.... "  Due to Chief James Vann's early involvement with the Moravians and the ongoing relationships of his relatives and descendants with them, the Vanns appear in their records up until Removal.  

As far as contemporaneous records, there are currently ten translated volumes of the Moravian records and another two-volume set assembled by another researcher (not every record is included in either set).  Hundreds of pages of records of the Cherokee agency are digitized on Fold3.  The American State papers begin in 1789 but they only mention James Vann twice. Cherokee government documents don't begin until the 1820's.  

For unknown reasons Emmet Starr, the first Cherokee genealogist, did not include the Vann family in his research.  More recent researchers like Jerry Clark and James Hicks, Don Shadburn, and John Strange don't always agree about the relationships.  

I totaly understand,  its one mans opinion of the other. I am not saying Starr is correct and neither is Bell. I am just looking for a common ground, so we can follow our Dna. Bells granddaughter shared their GED file with me years ago, but there were no sourcees of course. What information i had found was lost in 199?, when my computer crashed. So now I am trying to retrack my steps. I found online a catorigized llisting of mr Franks book, and that too is an interpretation of what he belives the illustrations and writings are,  so its another mans opinion. I would like to see these images, so that is what I will try to do.

I would prefer to get it right, for the sake of argument. The only thing I have in front of me that I feel is the most correct is the Cherokee By Blood Records of Eastern Cherokee Ancestry in the U.S. court of Claims. Still with that said is is only what was put on the application that was remembered at the time.

So that is all and I will keep searching.
The Vann descendants who filed Eastern applications were multiple generations away from the white Vanns who intermarried with the Cherokee so their applications are not very helpful with the pre-Removal families.  The Moravian records are the best (often the only) contemporaneous source since they interacted with these families regularly.
Good to know, thank you. I had just never heard of the books. So I do appreciate it.
0 votes
by Debbie Ferguson G2G4 (4.1k points)
Also a number of the same errors.

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