Alternate Biography for Abraham Hembree

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Location: South Carolina, United Statesmap
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Research Notes

About twenty people related to Abraham filed applications for a share of the Eastern Cherokee (Guion Miller) payment in 1907. Those of his direct descendants were grouped with Mahala Clout’s application, cited above. All of the claims were rejected since neither Abraham nor any of his children appear on any Cherokee records. None of the places Abraham is known to have lived were in the Cherokee Nation.

Records of the Tyger River Baptist Church 1801-1804 list as members David, Hannah, Ira, Isaiah, James, Mary, Matilda, Nancy, and William Hembree. Abraham and Winifred are not listed and it is not known if any of these people were their children. [1]

Men named David, James, Joel, and John Hembree all were landowners in the same area of the 96 District of South Carolina between 1780 and 1799.

“Drewry” Hembree, believed to be a brother, appears on the same 1790 census page as Abraham.

Most of South Carolina was sold/ceded away long before the Revolutionary War. In 1721 some land was ceded, (1 on map) in 1755 the limits of South Carolina were extended (2 on map) to include the modern districts of Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, Union, Spartanburg, Newberry, Chester, Fairfield, Richland, and York, generally south and east of the Keowee River. Land between the Broad and Catawba Rivers was recognized as belonging to the Catawba. Fort Prince George was erected on the Cherokee frontier. The small remaining Cherokee area of what is now South Carolina (8 on map) was ceded in 1777. See map Abraham stated his birth date, but not his birth place in his Revolutionary War application. The Spartanburg area where he lived most of his life and where he joined the army was part of South Carolina at the time he was born.

Chelsea, I have to take issue with this text in the narrative:

"Genealogist and historian Larry Petrisky produced an extensively-researched report titled "The Abraham Hembree Data Project," in which he gave compelling evidence to this widely-held theory. Petrisky's extensive research on the Hembree family is often used as a primary source for genealogists such as David Alden Hennessee of the Hennessee Family Genealogy Pages, which is often used as a primary source for many profiles that are protected by Wikitree's Native Americans Project."

As Kathie has demonstrated and my own review concurs: there is nothing extensive or compelling about Petrisky research. Many statements are not sourced, and many citations do not support the statements he has written. What specifically do you find compelling? I just don't see it.

The last sentence implies that wikitree's protection of a profile conveys that we recommend any source cited in the profile. Far from it. Please remove that sentence. It is misleading. Please familiarize yourself with wikitree's help page about project protected profiles. The project's Reliable Sources page does not include Hennessee's work.

I also just looked at Hennessee's page: he did a copy/paste of Petrisky's text onto his personal family tree. There's nothing "primary" about it. Also misleading is the statement that Petrisky's work "is approved as part of the official library of the South Carolina Genealogical Society." The newsletter you link to is from a chapter of the society, and the Petrisky work is included in the list of the chapter's inventory. No where does it say that any of the items in the inventory are approved or recommended by the Society.

I encourage you to document and cite what is known about Abraham. Kathie has listed a number of additional sources to support the profile. Then use a Research Notes section to discuss the theories, preferably in a neutral tone.

Here's an example of another profile you might use as a model:

Quoting from Petrisky’s “Abraham Hembree Project document:

“A young Cherokee woman who may have attended those delegations [referring to Cherokee trade delegations hosted by John and Sarah Amory] because she understood many languages also served as a trading interpreter in Purrysburg, where Swiss, German, and Dutch were being heard as often as English, French and Spanish. She was the consort/translator of Thomas Ayers (Eyres) the Cherokee agent for Georgia. Citation: Colonial Records of Georgia, Candler, IV 372, 424, 487, 501, V 276, 277].

Placing this citation after the above text certainly implies that the citations support the statements. Nothing could be farther from the truth. (The books cited are freely available at, FamilySearch, and other places on the Internet) specifically:

Vol. IV p. 372 – no mention of any women, makes references to Indian traders

p. 424 no mention of any women; Mr. Eyre, "a Cadet with the regiment" is mentioned in connection with the expectation of a visit from a Cherokee delegation

p. 487 no mention of any women. Mr. Eyre arrived “in his way to the Cherokee nation”

p. 501 no mention of any women. Mr. Eyre “took his Way up the River”

Vol. V, p. 276 no mention of any women, references a letter written 12/23/1739 by Mr. Tho Eyre.

p. 277 no mention of any women, “Mr. Eyre mentioned above”

Larry Petriski's article does not include sources that connect the many people he discusses and he includes many claims that are totally unsupported. William Emory was born in 1731 ad arrived in America as a six year old child in December, 1737. John and Sarah Amory married in 1726 and there is no evidence they had any children other than the four named in parish records which record the marriage of John Amory and Sarah Wilson in 1726, and the births of four children, "John son of John , Sarah bap 30 Oct 1727 Great Hale; Sarah d of John and Sarah bap 8 Sept 1730 Great Hale; William s of John and Sarah bap 15 Sept 1731 Great Hale; James s John and Sarah bap 19 sept 1732 Great Hale; James s John and Sarah bur 27 May 1737 Great Hale." ( Amory) There is nothing to suggest that he had a first wife and other children or that the "two menservants" mentioned in colonial records (John Amory, his wife, three children and two menservants) were related to him in any way. (Calendar of State papers , Oct. 10, 1737, Oct. 5 There are no records that even suggest that the daughter of Ludovic Grant (called "Mary Grant" by many although her name is actually unknown) had more children than daughters Mary, Elizabeth, and Susannah. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that John Amory had a child with a Cherokee woman in 1744. The citations Petrisky lists from the Colonial Records of Georgia have nothing to do with any Cherokee women.

Petrisky discusses someone he calls "Old John Hembree"

The name of “Old John” Hembree’s mother is not known but her “nicknames” were “Mary Ayers/Eyres” and “Many Ears” – it was written both ways in her notes and my great-grandmother could not make sense of it. She thought it was Ayers. Family legend says she went to England on tribal business, was “presented to the queen”, and died overthere from a sudden illness. Since her father was a Moore and her first husband was Ayres, we construct her name Mary (Moore) Ayres, b.c.1721, d.c.1751. no records of anyone by this name. No Cherokee went to England in the 1750's.

:Her death supposedly happened while “Old John” was in mid-childhood. The best fit for this legend happened in 1751 when a delegation of Cherokee from Keowee, Tellico and elsewhere (mostly from South Carolina) set out to be heard by the king of England concerning their frustration with the governor of South Carolina. Little Carpenter (Attakullakulla) and Wauhatchee were among them. The “Young Emperor” recalled that the king told them in 1730 that if they ever needed to speak with him they could go to the royal governor in Carolina or Virginia and be heard. So off to Virginia they went. [The Colonial Records of South Carolina : Documents Relating to Indian Affairs 1750-1754: p.151-154, 161. Some of the attendees at the conference in Williamsburg are named: The Raven, the Raven's son, named Moytoy, Tossetee (a Notchee), Good Warrioe of Estatoe, Moytoy of Telliquo, Caesar, Blind Warrior, Chucheechee, Tosetee, Skiagunta, and the Chote King. There were 19 other unnamed chiefs in attendance, several of the mens' wives, and some other women, all unnamed. There is no mention of any women involved in discussions. South Carolina Indian Affairs Vol 1, p. 161


  1. Townsend, Leah. South Carolina Baptists 1670-1805. Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Maryland. 1974. p. 136 note. Digitized at
  • See also:
  • David Alden Hennessee, "Hennessee Family Genealogy Pages," profile of Abraham Hembree This site compiles information from other researchers.

Comments: 15

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William W. Hembree died in Spartanburg, S.C. about 1824. He apparently deeded some land to a man named Enoch Smith and then in 1824 Enoch deeded the land to widow "Orinah" Hembree (deed not filmed, this is the index entry)

Makes it pretty clear that "Orinah" (or whatever her name actually was) was not Indian or she couldn't have owned the land.

Johnson Hembree was the administrator of his father's estate. I think this Johnson is the grandfather of the Johnson who filed the 1896 Dawes app.

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I'm re reading Petrisky's preface. It states that the theory of Abraham and Drury being son of William Emory came from "senior Hembree researchers" Bob Hembree and Dale Standifer. I.e., it's not Petrisky's theory.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Gosh, you're good! So I read a few of the newsletters about William Emory. Bob Hembree does a better job of citing his records than Petrisky did-- not full citations, but at least in most cases he makes reference to which record is supporting the claim he makes.

I'm still not sure how he leaps to a) Abraham and Drury being brothers, and b) that they were sons of William Emory and "Mary Grant" or any other Cherokee or Native person.

And somewhere he makes reference to William Emory's Cherokee wife (daughter of Ludovic Grant) being named Orinah. But he does not say where this came from....

posted by Jillaine Smith
Beyond garbled. "Johnson Hembree" filed for the 1896 Dawes which was thrown out due to rampant fraud. He didn't file again in 1900, so clearly was not Cherokee. Find-a-Grave for William Hembree of Virginia just recycles the same junk although it says William's wife was "Orinda" and makes no mention of any Indians.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
How can you tell when an application is due to rampant fraud. I don't have a membership anymore. But I often want to see these applications... When an app is rejected is there an explanation for why?
posted by Jillaine Smith
Sorry, grammar not good. All the 1896 apps were thrown out, not just Johnson's. The Dawes Commission started accepting applications in 1896, but the process was run by white people and they approved lots of white intruders who claimed to be Cherokee. The Cherokee Nation went to court to be able to make the decisions, won the case, and all the 1896 applications were rejected/overturned and the process started over. The 1896 apps aren't digitized. There is a name index on Ancestry, but you have to go to the Oklahoma Historical Society to see the apps (or pay them for a copy). It's assumed that anyone who didn't reapply in 1900 wasn't Cherokee (or was dead).
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
edited by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Very helpful context; is there any evidence that the Hembrees re-applied in 1900?
posted by Jillaine Smith
There are two people on the Cherokee Dawes with a "Hembree" connection:

1) Sarah Jane Blanche Doty. According to her application, she was the daughter of "Wyly" Hembry/Emery, a white man, and his Cherokee wife, Lucinda. Both were dead by 1900 (before 1880 apparently) and Sarah Jane/Blanche lived with her grandparents Esther and John Countryman in the 1880's. They were Old Settlers, so Sarah Jane couldn't apply for the Eastern Cherokee payment and give us more information. I don't find "Wyly" anywhere except on Sarah Jane's Dawes app.

2) Lou Hembry McCoy, the daughter of Ben and Lorinda Hembry, both white. She was born about 1857, moved to Indian Territory about 1875. No other information on her family.

"Johnson Hembree" only seems to be on the 1896 list.

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I just re-read Petrisky for the third time; each time I read it, I get angrier. He states that Abraham and Drury were brothers and sons of William Emory without any support.

And as far as I can tell, the most "compelling" argument from Bob Hembree's work is that Hembree family lore included an old Scotch Indian trader who had a daughter who married a Hembree. I'm not seeing any real *case* laid out by either of them for Abraham being son of William or brother to Drury.

Okay, this was during a lunch break -- I shouldn't do this. I have a few more things to get done before my week is over.

posted by Jillaine Smith
I've been dealing with his junk for almost twenty years. It is REALLY annoying when totally unsupported claims become "facts" by endless repetition.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Happy to have you come up with a better statement. Maybe “includes his rationale for his theory” ? I think we have to address all the “sourcing” somehow, but not sure how to say it. Chelsea just posted today citing one of the compilation web sites as “proof” so it feels like we have to acknowledge these other places somehow.


  • See also:

The following web sites are often cited as evidence for the parents of Abraham, but are compilations or derivations of Petrisky’s “Project.” And then list them…

I’m open to any ideas or suggestions, have at it!

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I may not get to this until this weekend or next week. Pretty busy week.

I did just google Petrisky, trying to find his street creds. Looks like he died (rather young) in 2016. Can't find hardly anything about him. No evidence that he was either a historian or a genealogist -- at least professionally.

posted by Jillaine Smith
Heh heh... I see we went from "genealogist and historian" to "researcher" to "descendant."
posted by Jillaine Smith
Kathie, you wrote in the narrative: "He produced a report in 2004 titled "The Abraham Hembree Data Project," which includes information to support his theory. [1] Portions of this document are found in other RootsWeb posts and other web sites"

But your comment on the original profile indicates that the information Petrisky includes does NOT support his theory.

Not sure how the last sentence adds value.

I also see no value including that Hennessy web page as a "see also." Unless I missed something, it's mostly a copy/paste of Petrisky.

EDITED TO ADD: Okay, I took another look at that Hennessee web site. He does cite other sources. Unfortunately, he does not quote what they say so we have to check each citation. Sigh.

posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith