Monday, July 14, 2008

"JESUS WEPT" An American Story

An American Story

of Struggle, Sacrifice, Faith and Hope

An Historical Novel
byJust Another Savage

Soon to be released

© 2008 All Rights Reserved

further information:

Adair, Bell, Benge, Boudinot, Bowles, Drew, Duncan, Dupree,
Fields, Kimbrell, Lynch, Martin,
Mayes, Murphy, O'Neal,
Ridge, Rogers, Ross, Starr, Vann, Watie, Worcester
Be sure to see the PBS Series, "WE SHALL REMAIN" which aired March, April, 2009

From PBS:

"Though the Cherokee embraced “civilization” and won recognition of tribal sovereignty in the U.S. Supreme Court, their resistance to removal from their homeland failed. Thousands were forced on a perilous march to Oklahoma."
My story is taken from documented records as well as family letters saved from the time. It's a story worth telling, if we understand how such political actions can and are repeating themselves in our current climate.

In the spring of 2009, the five part PBS Series, "WE SHALL REMAIN"
with their first Episode "After The Mayflower" was aired on national TV.
The Episode that got our attention, "Trail of Tears, aired April 27th, and is available on the PBS website, which featured "The Ridge", the Cherokee leader portrayed by the wonderful Wes Studi, and his clan who I wrote about in the book,
"Jesus Wept" An American Story.

Surprisingly, PBS did a fair job on their presentation, not overtaken
with the usual political correctness and historical rumor.
My story is taken from documented records as well as family letters saved from the time. It's a story worth telling, filled with political and historical intrigue.
It details the events surrounding the children of The Ridge Party
and what happens to a proud, educated, independent, Christian people who are not allowed to defend their borders.

Just Another Savage
'We Shall Remain': From Plymouth to Wounded Knee, a Tale of Survival

"The episodes devoted to Tecumseh and the Trail of Tears are the most emotionally powerful, and achieve the best balance between reenactment and standard documentary style. In "Trail of Tears," the third episode, distinguished Native American actor Wes Studi stars as Major Ridge, a prosperous Cherokee landholder who decided it was in the interest of his people, and his own prosperity, to give up an independent Cherokee homeland in the southern Appalachians in hopes of peace and resettlement in land west of the Mississippi. It is one of the most vile and shameful chapters in the history of U.S. relations with Native Americans, and Studi captures well the anguish of his conflicted character.

The filmmakers don't shy away from internal conflicts within native societies, and these conflicts were often exploited by outsiders. It was the Mohawks, loyal to the English, who turned on King Philip and defeated him. After Major Ridge, who owned black slaves and sent his son to boarding school in Connecticut, signed a desperate treaty with the Americans he was viewed as a traitor. He and his son were killed by their own people."

UPDATE 6/13/16


I have always been skeptical of the lineage from the Cherokee Tribe to my grandmother, LaVenia (Lou), who is supposed to be the granddaughter of 1/4 Cherokee, James Madison Bell. 
All of my relatives have no doubt or questions and regard the story as fact.  But there remain missing links; for instance,  her birth certificate, and that she was never enrolled with the Tribe.  
We were told she was not allowed to enroll by my grandfather who was prejudiced against the Indian. 

My years of research only added to the idea that they were correct in thinking she was Cherokee.   But without her birth certificate, I was not convinced.   Finally, against the wishes of my family, I had my DNA tested.   As I've always said, 'If I get a nosebleed, all the Cherokee blood is gone'.  I was right about that, and if there is any Native blood in me, it's only within the 1% range.   
We have never been able to solve the mystery of who Lou's father was and the only information we have is that he was supposed to be a German immigrant named Herrick who died when she was a toddler.   No one has ever offered us any proof as to his identity.   
As I said, every branch of the family believed us to be descendants of James M. Bell by way of his daughter Minnie Caroline Bell, who was supposed to give birth to Lou.  Lou even named her youngest daughter "Minnie".  
Lou's mother died when she was about 7 years old and this matches the death records of Minnie Caroline Bell.  In fact I've never been able to prove that Lou was not her child.
Whether or not that is true, I am so thankful that I learned the history of the Bell Family and the important part they had in Cherokee and American history.  It is an important story every American should know.

This is what I believe happened. 

Lou was orphaned, along with a younger brother George ( I have now found his descendants, and they know nothing)  when she was about 7 years old.   About this time the took the last name "GRAY".   She was taken into the home  (Whisenhunt) , as an indentured servant of a local family in St. Joe, Arkansas and remained with them until she married my grandfather at age 16.  He paid $100 to have her released from the family.  

 That family is indeed on the Dawes Rolls and was Cherokee.    
There are stories about Lou going to the reservation area of Telaquah, Oklahoma and playing with 'Indian' children.  She remembered her 'grandfather, James Madison Bell and being at his home.   She even spoke some Cherokee and said she attended some of their schools.  
I can imagine a 7 year old would think of the family she lived with as her family and also assumed their  'Grandpa' and her family was also her family.  It would have been the only family she really ever knew.   She had, as an adult, even been in contact with the Bell grandchildren, who remembered her as a cousin.   
I think Lou basically 'adopted'  the family she lived with, referring to their relatives as her own.  When the 8 or so children she had were grown and disbursed all over this nation, they still all told the same story.  Most still believe it as gospel, but I am still skeptical until I can locate ABSOLUTE proof of Lou's heritage.  I apologize to all in my family who are somewhat disappointed with me for bringing forth the DNA and other facts to try to solve this mystery.
Happily, the sections of the book dealing with my Mother's family, the Kimbrell/Oneal line is perfectly researched with no doubt of it's veracity.    As for the Cherokee heritage, I remain skeptical.
Thank you,
Billie Nix, aka Just Another Savage

WE are happy to look at ANY information you may have on the parentage our Grandmother Lou (Lavenia Gray, Herrick) Nix.
This photo is Lou, her husband Wm. Walter Nix and their children, c. 1906

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The events and places.......

The "Trail of Tears" various routes Circa 1838-1839

The Southern Cherokee and their neighbors, Circa 1837-1872

Rose Cottage, Plantation of Chief John Ross, Circa 1860, near Tahlequah, Indian Territory

The Charge of the 1st Iowa Regiment, under Union Gen. Lyon,
at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, near Springfield, Mo. Aug. 10th, 1861

And a few of the Characters.....

James Madison Bell, "Colo-Gotte-Yon", c. 1865

Sarah Caroline "Sally" Bell Watie

James Kornelius O'Neal, Circa 1865, Ft. Lewisburg, Arkansas, Union

Stand Watie Circa 1855

Photo: Artist rendering of Major Ridge, The Ridge, Cherokee leader.
"Far better it is to dare mighty dreams, to win glorious triumphs,
even though checkered by failure,
than to take the ranks with those poor spirits
who neither enjoy much nor suffer much,
because they live in that gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat!" - Theordore Roosevelt

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Jesus Wept" An American Story

More of the characters in the story.

Dr. William and Charlotte Bell Dupree

Saladin Ridge Watie, shortly before his death c. 1870

Headstone of John Bell Jr. found in the bottom of an oil barrell c. 1930 near what was the community of Mount Tabor, Texas. He died in 1852.
The cemetery was destroyed by oil drillers.
Elias "Cornelius" Boudinot, c. 1870

Treaty of the Birds

An American Story

of Struggle, Sacrifice, Faith and Hope


All Rights Reserved © 2008 JustAnotherSavage

ISBN 978-0-615-26100-3
further information:

Southern Cherokee delegation to Washington D. C. Fall 1866
L -R , John Rollin Ridge, Saladin Ridge Watie, Richard Fields,
Elias Cornelius Boudinot, William Penn Adair