Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Native American Family Member

I think most people like to have a Native American tucked into their very white family tree.  I have read articles warning of family stories of the family's "Native American Princess".  Don't believe all of the stories your older family members tell you.  Make sure to research the facts.  When I did my tree, I did just that.  I knew a story that my great aunt told me about an Indian Princess that married an early Camden, Maine settler and tucked it away in my brain for future reference.  Six "Greats" into my Mother's side of the family tree and there it was!  It was true!  (Well, I don't know about the Indian Princess part, but...) There was no story to go with it or anything, but I found the records and added her name to my family tree.  My great aunt did not have access to internet genealogy sites that harbored the false "Indian Princess" scams in family tree pages.  She was remembering this information from word of mouth.  Someone in her family told her this.  There was no need to make it up.

Since this information was given to me from my seventy-something great aunt (whose mother was a Richards) I would not have to worry about my Indian Princess ancestor being fake.  Well, perhaps she wasn't a princess.  I am not really sure.  That isn't what mattered most to me.  I just wanted to have my family tree in order.  Aunt Glad wanted to help me with that.

Then, today, I was checking out a page on the Maine Genealogy Network and there was a site about researching Native American relatives.  I clicked on the section about the "fake" indian relatives.  Not me!  Down the page, I saw the name "Big Thunder".  My heart kind of sunk.  That was supposed to be the name of my Great great great great great Grandmother's father.  She couldn't be a fake!  If she was then who did my great 6x Grandfather really marry?  I'm here so he had to have married someone!  I did a careful research of my family tree.  How could this happen?

Well, I read the article regarding "Big Thunder" and it seemed my heart would sink further til the very end where it gave some examples of some possible facts regarding a "Big Thunder" character.  The last example was of a "Little Fawn" marrying a man named Dodipher Richards.  Little Fawn was also called "Sarah Tarratine", a little factoid I discovered in my research and not something that came up in the Big Thunder scam.  And of course, Little Fawn and Dodipher settled in the Camden, Maine area and had many children, as they did way back then.  There were little Dodiphers and Sarahs running all around in the large Richards' family (Dodipher's brothers etc. lived fairly near).

My advise is DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Write down your sources.  Are they reliable?  Census records (not available for the time period of Dodipher and Little Fawn). Birth and Death records.  Verify family stories with facts.  Why the heck people would try to deceive others by posting fake family trees is beyond me.

Anyway, here is the source that I read all this information from.

UPDATE!  June 7th, 2013  [Sarah "Little Fawn" Richards]

On Maine Genealogy Network I requested information regarding my Native American relative and her husband, Dodipher Richards, asking for any kind of  proof that Sarah was a Native American, or something with her real last  name on it, because maybe her name wasn't "Little Fawn".  I knew that the Richards part of my family is very large, generations producing many children, and many still living in the area.  Today,  someone posted information about that section of the Richards' family.  Here is what he posted:

Hello there,
My 3rd great-grandfather, Mormon pioneer Willard Glover McMullin (b.1823, North Haven, Maine) married Martha Richards (b.1814, Searsmont, Maine).  Martha's parents were Josiah Richards (b.1785, Maine) and Ruth Richards (b.1789, Lincolnville, Maine).  I have Josiah listed as the son of Dodipher and Sarah Little Fawn, while Ruth is listed as a grand-daughter of Dodipher and Sarah (fancy that).  

Back to Willard and Martha...they arrived in Utah in 1848, and were sent to help establish the community of Harrisburg, Utah, in the late 1850s. From what I've read about Martha, she was an expert basket maker/weaver and was given a name by local Native American groups that translated to "Golden Woman", due to them always being welcomed at her door.  I've seen her photo, she had a dark complexion and straight, black hair.  If Sarah Little Fawn was both Martha's grandmother and great-grandmother, it makes sense she would have been an expert basket maker/weaver and a friend to the local Native American groups.

I was very happy to get information to help confirm Sarah Richard's Native American ancestry.

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