Cherokee Princess?


Barbra’s Namesake Granddaughter

According to my 5th great-grandmother, Barbra, she was born between 1771-5 in a Cherokee village near Randolph County, North Carolina.  She married Adam Whisenhunt (b. 1769) and they moved to Arkansas.  She told all of her (14) children, she was full-blooded Cherokee.  At least one son, Noah Whisenhunt (and his children) were admitted to the Cherokee rolls.  Two of her grandsons, I know of, Benjamin and another Noah Whisenhunt, were as well.  Later, I do not know when (it could have been quite recent), one of the Noahs was removed from the rolls.  I do not know why.

At that time, in order to be added to the Cherokee rolls, one had only to fill out the paperwork claiming a Cherokee parent(s) and maybe to live on the Cherokee lands (but then since ownership of land was why many applied for inclusion in the rolls, that would have been no hardship).  There was no such thing as DNA testing at that time, or course.

Barbra’s son(s) and grandchildren can be found on several Cherokee census documents, but after Adam Whisenhunt’s death, Barbra herself moved to Fannin, Texas with her daughter Mary Magdalene (now McRae).


Example of Cherokee Burial Hut – They were made of wood, stone, or some combination thereof.  Sometime, the Cherokee, when forced to bury their dead outside, simply piled stones on the graves, to protect them from animals.

Barbra died in 1870 and was buried in the Carr Cemetery where all the McRaes (her daughter’s husband’s family) were buried.  There were several stories of a Cherokee style burial hut over one of the graves prior to the graveyard being bulldozed over by an ambitious farmer, who apparently wanted more acreage to work.  Argh!  Really!

Now, to our odd DNA results.  And I do mean odd.  My DNA came back negative for Native American DNA, just like my sisters.  So, I bought a kit for my Aunt Margie and asked her to take the test.  Guess what?  No joy there either.  Pretty safe to say that if there was Cherokee DNA to be had in our family, it didn’t pass down to my grandmother (daughter of Opal Raola Jettie Fae Estella May Clements – we called her Jettie Fae 🙂 – great-granddaughter of Barbra B. Whisenhunt).

However, while my sister and I had quite a few strong matches in common with the Barbra/Adam Whisenhunt DNA line, my Aunt Margie had a twice as many as us combined.  And do you know what I noticed almost all of our matches had in common?  Like 95%?  Trace Finland/Western Russian DNA.

I have a theory.  I am a novelist (70 books published out of NY & London), so of course I have a theory!  I am also a huge reader of history.  While it might sound far-fetched and fantastic to some, it’s entirely possible that Barbra was actually a child taken in an early raid who was too young or traumatized to remember she was ever European.  Those who have studied their history of that area (and the other early settled colonies), know that relations between the native tribes and the settlers were not always easy.  Particularly in that area of North Carolina and Virginia.

Taking captives was common practice after raids, or skirmishes for the native tribes, the fate of whom was determined by several factors.  But purchase/adoption was one possible outcome for children, who were then treated like any other treasured member of the family.  One of the reason I favor this theory is that, while it is clear from the message boards on that the other branches of Barbra/Adam’s tree are as convinced of their Native American ancestry as mine always has been, there seems to be no DNA evidence supporting it.

Out of all the matches I (or my sister, daughter, nephew, or aunt) had with that line, only three had Native American ancestry and considering where they came from, I can’t rule out them having other native ancestors in their family tree.

What if Barbra’s family came from Finland/Western Russia and she was taken during a skirmish or raid?  I am now doing research on just that theory.

Wish me luck!

Thoughts and ideas are welcome.  Trolls and KIAs (know-it-alls) are not.  And hey, if you too are a Barbra/Adam Whisenhunt descendant, please leave a comment with your story and the results of your own research, whatever it may be. 🙂  I’d love to hear if you actually got different DNA results than we did.  As I said earlier, it’s possible the NA DNA simply didn’t pass down to our line.

You can visit my family tree at:

You won’t see live people, but there are plenty who have passed on to stalk at your leisure!

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