Thursday, June 30, 2022

The following story of "Fannie York Stevenson" written by Peggy Wellbern as told to her by her Mother-in-law, Crissie Wellbern, who was the granddaughter of Fannie York Stevenson Coomer.  

Betsie Green married Reubin Wheeler around 1750. She was an Irish girl with red hair, Reubin Wheeler had black hair, was Dutch and came from Norway or Sweeden. They had a son that was given his father's name, Reubin Wheeler.

When the father died Betsie Green Wheeler married again. This man's name was Reubin Gibson. Reubin Gibson adopted Reubin Wheeler Jr. and changed his name to Reubin Gibson. This family line continued with the name of Gibson by adoption but Wheeler by blood.

The boy, Reubin, married a girl named Araetta, her last name is not known.  Areatta had red hair and was English. It is said Araetta was born before her parents got in a house. These complete circumstances are not known.

We know of one child, a daughter, born to Reubin and Araetta. Her name was Nancy Gibson and she was born in 1809. She died at age 64, May 24, 1872.


Nancy Gibson married Hiram Stephenson. Hiram was the son of John Stephenson and his mother's last name was Stover. Hiram filed a claim on fifty acres of land on the Waters of Yellow Creek. Yellow Creek runs near the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky. They had two children, a son, Marion and a daughter Fannie York, born March 11, 1833 in Bell County, Kentucky on Yellow Creek (died at age 92, March 31, 1925).

 Hiram and Nancy separated. The two children stayed with Hiram and he married again to Emiline Henderson in Tennessee. Nancy later married Sammie Benington (he was great uncle of Doc Benington) in Laurel County, Kentucky.

 Marion and Fannie were unhappy with their stepmother and felt she was mean to them. They decided to run away from home when Fannie was eleven years old and Marion was nine years old. The two children walked across a mountain to a neighbor's house. He put them in a canoe and sent them out on the Cumberland River. They floated on the river all night until late the next afternoon. Fannie remembered to her children that it was fall of the year and she was cold. Marion took his coat off and put it around her.

A man saw the canoe in the near sundown with the two children in it. The canoe was then only one and one-half miles from the Cumberland Falls. The canoe would have reached the falls that night.  He swam out and rescued them. They were then sent to some of their relatives in Tennessee. They never again saw their father.

Fannie York Stephenson married Joseph Newton Coomer in 1864. Joseph Newton was born June 17, 1844 (died at age 81, June 26, 1925) (both are buried in Metcalfe County, Kentucky). Joseph Newton's father was William (Bill) Coomer and his mother was Maria Ashbrook. Maria was born July 12, 1814 (died December 1882). Her mother's last name was Fry. Joseph Newton Coomer was raised in Casey County, Kentucky near Mill Springs. He had a brother named James (Jim).

As soon as Fannie was old enough she hired out doing general housework, weaving cloth, etc.

Joseph and Fannie rented for 18 years, living in any kind of a cabin, before they had a home of their own. They settled finally in Edmonton, Kentucky.

They raised sheep, cotton and flax, geese and chickens and mot of their food. Fannie made thread and wove cloth from wool, cotton and flax. She then made the clothing and household linens from these, stitching them by hand.  Fannie and Joseph (they were known as Mama Coomer and Pa Joe to their grandchildren) had four daughters. A son was born between each girl but they died in infancy.

Fannie dug ginsang for most of what she bought in stores. She was considered a good midwife and gave a lot of time to this. Fannie worked in the field, did all the housework, until her girls were old enough to help. Fannie pieced quilts, made feather beds and pillows. Almost all their clothes were made by hand. She was an accomplished weaver, making different weaves such as seersucker, birdseye, honeycomb and many other kinds. Fannie knitted cotton socks for summer and woolen ones for winter. Her days startedlong before daylight and lasted until long after dark.

 She lived until age 92, continuing to work until her death. Her back was bent with age and hurt all the time, but she would not sit idle for any length of time.

 It is said in the family that she took a bath one night, outside, in cold weather and took pneumonia. Fannie died from this, preceding Pa Joe by three months.

 Fannie and Joseph Coomer's children were:


1. Nancy Myriah married Jim Acree  Children: Hershel, Sherman, Bruce, Bettie, Loren, Jasper, Mary Helen and Paul.

2. Araetta (Rettie) - (Named for Fannie Coomer's grandmother) married William Haskell Garmon. (Part of the information about Araetta's family has been added by Lillie Rackley, Araetta's granddaughter) They had two children, Clifton and William Robert (Robbie). Clifton married Minnie Phelps, just 3 months before he was killed when a board went through him while working at a sawmill, in 1911.  Araetta's husband died Feb. 27, 1905. The cause of his death is not now known.  Her second marriage was to Doc Stephenson. She & Doc never had any children.  William Robert was a barber. In his early life, he was a rural mail carrier, and delivered mail on horseback. He met his first wife, Esta Hubbard, by delivering her families's mail, and she would come to meet him to get the mail. He & Esta had two daughters, Dorothy Marie & Beaulah Mae. Robbie & Esta divorced.

Robbie later married Christine Hubbard (a niece to Esta). They had two children, a boy and a girl, Lillie Mae & William Earnest (Bill). Lillie Mae married William Newton Rackley; they have a son and a daughter, Sammy Joe and Donna DeLynn. Bill married Paula Kay Fowler and they have one son, Brian.

3. Mary Katherine (Mollie) (12-6-1877---10-16-1951) married FinisBenton Williams (6-23-1882---4-24-1954). Their four children were: 

Inus Golon  8-30-1906---12-27-1926 (had three boys); Lizzie Mae 3-17-1906;

Mary Lee 12-4- 1908; John K. 4-3-1911 (John K. was living in Breeding,Ky in 1993).

 4. Sarah Delina (Sallie) married Daniel Lawson Coomer - their children were George, Lawrence, Cecil, Ercy, Crissie, Fannie, Joseph, Eva, Dexia.

Crissie Coomer married Arthur Randolph Wellbern on January 1, 1918. Crissie died Dec. 25, 1986. They had one son: Fredrick Arthur. He married Peggy McDougle and they had four sons: Stephen, Michael, Gary and Warren.

 Submitted by: Lillie Rackley




 28 November 1809 -- James Parks, Henrico Co., Va., to Job Crabtree, Lee Co., Va., - $600, 1000 acres on Mulberry Creek, beg--- corner to land of Reuben Wheeler's -- Wit John Crabtree, Randolph Noe, Nimrod Chrisman.  Book 2 page 277


Branch, James. grantee.  DATE  8 April 1800. NOTE  Location: Lee County.  

NOTE  Description: 1000 acres on the head of Mulberry Creek. adjoining Reuben Wheeler.  


William Carmack, born February 24, 1784 in Washington County, Virginia; died April 21, 1861; married Rosannah Wheeler 1808 in Hawkins County, Tennessee; born January 01, 1790; died July 18, 1849.


 This may be Reuben Gibson, father of Reuben Wheeler Gibson, Reuben Gibson is found in Orange County, North Carolina tax with Thomas Gibson.   




Sunday, June 26, 2022

Melungeons Indians _Goins



24 May 1891

A Melungeon Tribe on the Ohio River 
In Illinois

The interest aroused by Miss Will Allen Dromgoole's sketches of the Melungeons of East Tennessee, has been widespread.  It has inspired study of local peculiarities in many Southern districts, and the following letter, from Illinois, is of interest, especially to show how common these wandering relics of the savage tribes are.  

The name given to these people by Miss Bondeau recalls the Goan tribe of Southern and Middle Tennessee, which has many of the Melungeon attributes.  The religious tendencies of the Illinois people are distinctive.

Dear Miss Dromgoole:
I fear you will think I-a stranger-am taking a great liberty in writing to you, but I have read with much interest your articles on the "Melungeons" in the March and May numbers of the Arena, and I want to tell you about a people here who, I think, must belong to that race.

For many years, just how many I cannot tell, but certainly since the early sixties, a set of people known as the Goinses, or Goins tribe, have lived here in Pope County, Ill., and just across the Ohio River in Livingston County, Ky.

The came, they say, from Tennessee. They claim to be of Cherokee descent, and many of them show traces of this in their tall, spare frames, high cheek bones, straight black hair and keen eyes, while others have the kinky hair, flat noses and thick lips of the negro.  All have reddish brown skins.  Some are darker than others, but it is the same color and differs from any shade of the negro.

They hold themselves utterly distinct and apart from their white and black neighbors, marrying each other.

There are exceptions, but this is the rule, and one girl, now living with the negroes in this town was cut off by her family on this account.

The greater number of these people are named Goins, and they are always spoken of collectively as the Goinses or the Goins tribe but there are other family names among them.  Of these the principal on is HELTON. Then there is BOULDEN or BOLDEN, a STILL and a FIELDS. 

Some years ago there was a Goins settlement in Pope County and one in Livingston County, besides families living on the farms lying along the river.  Here they rented from the owners or worked, the men as farm hands, the women about the house.

I passed through Kentucky settlement about eighteen years ago. It was a row of dilapidated log cabins set down any way on either side of the road which lay along the top of a ridge about a mile from the river.  Some of the homes had little vegetable gardens [truck patches, they were called] around them, but it looked a poverty stricken place and people. There was also a log cabin church, for they are for the most part quiet, peaceable and deeply religious.  My home, until three years ago, was on an island in the Ohio River, between these two counties, and often on summer nights we listened to their singing at their church in Illinois. Very sweet and mournful, too, it sounded across the water. 

On Sundays they came in crowds to the river bank to baptize the converts, or when their were none of these, to visit back and forth across the river.  They delighted in visiting.

One girl coming fresh from Tennessee where she had been left when her people came, lived for a while with us.  She told my mother she never heard of the "Good Man" til she came here and knew no difference between Sunday and other days.  She said one day when told to close the shutters, "I done shot the blinders."  The we children thought was very funny, as many of her expressions were.

One Jim Goins with his family lived some months on our island. The wife went barefooted and clad in the thinnest of cotton dresses until they left near Christmas.  My mother ordered her clothes which she declined, declaring she was not cold.

GEORGE HILTON, the head of the Hilton family was considered by the white people the most intelligent of the lot.  He worked for us more than a year and my father taught him to read and write a little.  He looked like an Indian, tall, with straight black hair and black eyes.  He was very superstitious, a strong believer in signs and omens, and a great weather prophet.  He was afraid of the dark.  I never heard that he feared anything else but go outside the house after dark without a light he would not.  When twitted with cowardice, he would say;  "You kid call it what you please.  I jus' aint a-gwine."

From the first their sole aim and desire seemed to be to "get out to the Nation" as they expressed it. 

A few years ago the greater part of them went - and the Nation refused to receive them. After this they scattered. Only a few of them drifted back here where still a few were left. 

It was at this place, Golconda, Ill., that [in 1839 I think] the Southern Indian tribes crossed the Ohio River when they were taken out to the reservations, and I have thought this perhaps why the Goinses came here.  At least, no one seems to know anything about it, and I can think of no other reason for it.

They claim relationship with the Cherokees.  They came here not many years after the crossing of the tribes. They settled on either side of the river not farther away than six or eight miles from the Indian crossing place, and afterwards went in to join them. 

I have always been interested in this strange people, but never could learn anything more about them than what I have told you. Since your article appeared I truly think my Goinses must have come from your Melungeons, and this is why I have written all this to you.

Isabell J. Bordeau
Golconda, Polk County, Ill.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Melungeon Indians_Part II Collins

The Information on Benjamin Collins Family is from Will Allen Dromgoole 
who boarded at the home of his descendants in 1890. 

"The Malungeons believe themselves to be of Cherokee and Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese blood, but are very bold in declaring themselves a remnant of those tribes, still inhabiting the mountains of North Carolina, which refused to follow the tribes to the Reservation set aside for them  W.A. Dromgoole


Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information.

Mr. Thomas M Sharpe, draughtman and architect, leaves this morning 
to join Miss Will Allen Dromgoole in the Cumberland Mountains for the 
purpose  of making some illustrations for articles to be published for her. 

Miss Dromgoole writes that she has found the "Melungeon people"
 in East Tennessee and will write them up. 


 Saponi village was a musket shot from Fort Christiana   
the village cabins were all joined making a circle with
 3 passages 6 feet wide each, the doors all faced
 inside the circle while the center of the circle was a 
tree stump which the 12 head men spoke on

Calloway Collins

Calloway Collins is an Indian if ever one set foot on Tennessee soil.  He is very fond of his red skin, high cheek-bones and Indian like appearance.
His cabin has two rooms, connected by a kind of shed.  There are dirt floors in one room and the shed, but the other room has a floor of oak logs with the bark still on them and laid side by side, just as they came from the forest.  A bed of dry, last year's leaves was the only furnishing the room could boast.
The cooking and eating were done in the connecting shed, and a large coffee-pot always occupied a low shelf just above the table, for Calloway, like most of the Malungeons, is a slave to coffee and drinks it instead of water throughout the day and night.  Calloway himself is a king, a royal good fellow, who, seated upon a great stump that marks the fate of a giant beech that grew precisely in the center of the site selected by the Indian for his shed, or hallway,  would entertain me by the hour with his songs and banjo-picking and stories of his grandfather.
The man's very instincts are Indian.  He sleeps in leaves, inside or out, as he feels inclined.  He smokes almost unceasingly; so often, in fact, that his wife, Ann Calloway, finds it necessary to cultivate a 'torbacy spot'' for her ''ole man ter smoke up.''
They have fourteen children and grandchildren, but Calloway is especially fond of Dorcas, who, he declares, "shows the Injun in her."
And truly she does, with her dark sullen face, black hair and small eyes, Dorcas, however is a true type of the Malungeon belle.

He was very tall and straight, with hawk-like eye, and long, coarse hair that fell about his well-shapen shoulders with that careless abandon which characterizes the free child of the forest. He wore neither shoes nor stockings, and his trousers were rolled back above the strong, well formed knee, showing the dusky skin which marked him of a race other than white or black.

Indian: the grandson of a chief, and the son of a full-blooded Cherokee. Such he claimed, and the most dubious would have yielded the point when, entering a small clearing near the bluff's edge, he mounted an overhanging rock and bent his sharp, penetrating gaze down upon the valley below, warm with the October sunset. No lynx-eyed warrior ever scanned the white man's country with more earnest thoroughness than did he that mist-mellowed, far-away valley of the Clinch.

The dark face of the Malungeon grew stern. He had felt some pride in being “a charmer” for the afflicted and the bewitched — but his religion well, he was not prepared to give that up; he had only just begun to learn to feel at home in it. Still, it was good to be healer; his grandfather, old Jordan Collins, had been a healer too, - a healer and a chief; a full-blooded Cherokee chief. No doubt about that: it was on the records.

The musician ceased playing: the fiddle lay across his knee. Now and then his hand strayed among the mellow old strings, but only to caress them. His thoughts were far away among the days when old Jordan Collins had fiddled for the young people on Newman's Ridge and Black Water Swamp. Old Jordan was an Indian, “Soft Soul they called him, and he had been respected by the whites. No man had ever dared call old Jordan a negro: he was a Cherokee, feared and respected as a Cherokee.

And very like a king he looked, upon his rude, improvised throne. A king: the last of the kings indeed ; the last full-blooded male representative of that strange, unclaimed clan — the Malungeons. A chief! such he felt himself for one brief, transitory moment. And these were his people, this handful, which the wanton vagaries of fancy multiplied to myriad millions. His eye kindled, his full chest rose and fell, while the old sparkle danced in his eye, and the proud flush sprang to his dusky cheek.

“Yes, King. Sing yer gran'dad's song - Ole Jording's song."

The fiddle did not trouble itself to follow the voice. With his hand he still twanged the old dance-melody, while the strong, stern, quiverless voice broke into the quaint, rhymeless hymn that he sung at the meeting-house, at the graveyard above the newly-dead, or in the echoing forest as he tramped home at noon or at midnight from the still.

“Stay, brother Green, do come ter me,

Fur I air shot en bleeding,
An' I mus' die, no mo' ter see

Meh wife en meh deah chilring."
“Meh lillul chilring I loves 'em so.”

“() cud I once mo'see 'em,
An' gi' thum ther las' fai’well word,
Tell we shall meet in Heavin."

 "They have fourteen children and grandchildren"
[Calloway's Family - Count Them]


Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information

The original Collins people were Indian, there is no doubt about that, and they lived as the Indians lived until sometime after the first white man appeared among them.   Will Allen Dromgoole ~1890 
“Vardy Collins, Shepherd Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodmans, chiefs and the rest of them settled here about the year 1804, possibly about the year 1795, but al these men above named, who are called Melungeons"  Lewis Jarvis ~1903


A race of people mostly by the name of Collins and Mullins live on the top, and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge, and some of them in a fertile valley called, "Blackwater," "history tells not of their origin," but as far as I can learn from the oldest ones among them, their ancestors came there from "Reed Island" about the beginning of the present century.  
VIATOR." Rogersville, Tenn. January 1876

Benjamin appears on the Grayson County Virginia Tax List with Milleton Collins through the years 1794 until 1802 when Milleton and Avy sell their land on Big Reed Island.  Benjamin of course named two of his sons Milleton and Benjamin who lived on top and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge.

Fincastle County 1773 Delinquent Tax Lists: David Collens, Elisha Collens, Ambrus Collens, Samuel Collens, John Collens, Lewis Collens, John Collens Junr., George Collens, Charles Collens. On James McGavock's List of Delinquents. At a Court held for Fincastle Decr 6 1774 "This List of delinquents on New River & Reed Creek was received by the Court containing 213 Tithables and is that ought to be Received by the Vestry of the Parish of Botetourt. W. Ingles"

The Fincastle 1772 and 1773 list includes: David (Indian lands), Ambrose, John, John Jr., Charles (Indian lands), Elisha, Samuel (Indian land), Lewis, George (Indian land) Collins and Micajer Bunch (Indian Land).

1794 Grayson County 
[Cut from Wythe, Wythe from Montgomery cut from Fincastle 1775] 

Millinton Collins 5-10-1783 Montgomery Co., Virginia.
[Note; In 1781 after the War, Lewis Collins returned home to find his father had moved to
Montgomery Co., Virginia]
80 acres Big Reed Island Pine & Snake Cr [in modern Carroll Co.] & New River Grants 29-325

FEBRUARY 22, 1802 - Grayson County, Book 1, pages 480-481.
From Milleton Collins of Grayson County to James Bobbett of Grayson County, for 80 acres of land, lying and being on the waters of Big Reed island, the waters of New River

Thomas Collins was living on the Flatt River in 1777 when it was cut from Orange County to form Caswell County.  The first Caswell County Tax List included Martin, Paul, Milleton/Middleton and Charles Collins.  

Solomon Collins born 1763 Johnston Co., North Carolina entered the Revolutionary War from Caswell County Pension Application Excerpt


Thursday, March 10, 2022

John Sizemore M.D.

I have lost the Newspaper source for this article somewhere in my files

John Sizemore, M. D. The community of Prestonsburg has had the services of Doctor Sizemore, a competent physician and surgeon, for the past ten years, and the name has been identified with the medical profession in this part of Eastern Kentucky for upwards of half a century.

Dr. John Sizemore was born in the Big Sandy Valley on Bull Creek two miles above its mouth February 8, 1871, son of Doctor Faries and Mourning (Clark) Sizemore. His great-grandfather was George G. Sizemore, a quarter blood Cherokee Indian who came from the Cherokee Reservation in Eastern Tennessee and spent his last years in Magoffin County. The grandfather of Doctor Sizemore was also named John and was a Union soldier in Company F of the Thirty-nmth Mounted Infantry during the Civil war. His death was the result of an accident in Magoffin County, though his home was on Beaver Creek.

Dr. Faries Sizemore was born on Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Beaver, in 1846. He was a youthful soldier in Company F of the Thirty-ninth Kentucky Mounted Infantry and with this command was in the fighting at Mount Sterling, Cynthiana and Kings Saltworks. He had a cousin, a noted rebel spy, known as Rebel Hawk, and this cousin effected the capture of Faries Sizemore, and the latter remained a prisoner of war for only a few days. Following the war Faries Sizemore studied medicine and all the rest of his life was a deep and devoted student of the science and enjoyed a very high and deserved reputation for his skill in practice. He practiced in Floyd and Carter counties, and finally retired and lived at Paintsville, where he died September 16, 1900. He was a member of the Grand Army Post, also voted as a .republican, and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The wife of Dr. Faries Sizemore, Mourning Sizemore, is now eighty-five years of age and lives with her son John. She was born in Kentucky of an old Virginia family. There is one other child, Minnie, wife of M. H. Blivens.

Dr. John Sizemore acquired his early education in the common schools of Floyd and Carter counties, began the study of medicine in his father's office, and subsequently entered the Starling Medical College of Columbus, Ohio, and from there transferred to the Medical College of Ohio at Cincinnati. He was graduated April 9, 1896. Doctor Sizemore has been in active practice for a quarter of a century, beginnmg his professional work at South Portsmouth, Kentucky, later at Ashland, and since 1911 at Prestonsburg. He enjoys a large general practice and is a member of the various medical societies.

In 1889 he married Miss Emma Akers, daughter ot S K. Akers of Van Lear. Their only son Faries Palmer died in childhood. Doctor Sizemore is a Methodist while Mrs. Sizemore belongs to the Missionary Baptist Church. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Knights of Maccabees and the Red Men and is a republican voter.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Melungeon_Indians Part1 Collins


The Melungeon Indian Families of Tennessee


Will Allen Dromgoole ~ 1890  

There is, perhaps, no more satisfactory method of illustrating this peculiar race, it's origin and blood, than by the familiar tree. Old Vardy Collins, then, must be regarded as the body, or main stem, in this state, at all events.

It is only of very late years the Melungeons have been classed as families. Originally they were tribes, afterward clans and at last families. From Old Vardy the first tribe took it's first name Collins. Others who followed Vardy took the Collins name also.

Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information.

But.....go back a step. Benjamin Collins was known as old Ben, and became the head of the Ben's tribe. Old Solomon Collins was the head of Sol's tribe. The race was increasing so rapidly, by emigration and otherwise, that it became necessary to adopt other names than Collins. They fell ,curiously enough, upon the first or Christian name of the head of a large family connection or tribe. Emigrants arriving attached themselves as they chose to the several tribes. After a while, with an eye to brevity, doubtless, the word "tribe" was dropped from ordinary, everyday use. The "Bens" the "Sols" meant the Ben and Sols Tribes. It appeared that no tribe was ever called for Old Vary, although as long as he lived he was recognized as head and leader of the entire people.

This is doubtless due to the fact that in his day the settlement was new, and the people, and the one name Collins covered the entire population. The original Collins people were Indian, there is no doubt about that, and they lived as the Indians lived until sometime after the first white man appeared among them.

  Lewis Jarvis  ~ 1903

“Vardy Collins, Shepherd Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodmans, chiefs and the rest of them settled here about the year 1804, possibly about the year 1795, but al these men above named, who are called Melungeons, obtained land grants and muniments of title to the land they settled on and they were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west. They came from the Cumberland County and New River, Va., stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge. Some of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, and Virginia, where Stoney Creek runs into Clinch River.

The white emigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of the river and called it Fort Blackmore and here yet many of these friendly “Indians” live in the mountains of Stony creek, but they have married among the whites until the race has almost become extinct. A few of the half bloods may be found-none darker- but they still retain the name of Collins and Gibson, &c. From here they came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater and many of them are here yet; but the amalgamations of the whites and Indians has about washed the red tawny from their appearance, the white faces predominating, so now you scarcely find one of the original Indians; a few half-bloods and quarter-bloods-balance white or past the third generation.

The old pure blood were finer featured, straight and erect in form, more so than the whites and when mixed with whites made beautiful women and the men very fair looking men. These Indians came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater. Some of them went into the War of 1812-1914 whose names are here given; James Collins, John Bolin and Mike Bolin and some others not remembered; those were quite full blooded. These were like the white people; there were good and bad among them, but the great majority were upright, good citizens and accumulated good property and many of them are among our best property owners and as good as Hancock County, Tennessee affords. Their word is their bond and most of them that ever came to Hancock county, Tennessee, then Hawkins County and Claiborne, are well remembered by some of the present generation here and now and they have left records to show these facts.

Robert K. Thomas who surveyed the Native American families in Appalachia.  His report can be found here  although the links have been broken, it is a must read.  

Robert K. Thomas ~ 1980

Dear Mrs.  ----
I am writing to you to thank you and your husband for your kindness to me when I was in Coeburn last month.  I am now finished with my survey of Indian groups in the Southern Appalachians ...  and am back in Michigan.
Since you seemed interested in the history of the Collins family in your area I will pass along to you what I know of their history. 
As far as I can determine; all the Collins' of northeastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and eastern Kentucky are descendants of one household  of Collins who resided in Orange County, North Carolina in 1760; a family of Saponi Indians. I know that it must be mind boggling to imagine that the thousands of Collins' in your area are all descended from just one household, but such is the case.  Further this is not so amazing as it seems.  It is common among pre Revolutionary American families.  .......


Solomon Collins

"Her father was Solomon Collins, a descendant of a friendly Indian who migrated with the whites from Virginia in the early 
settlement of Hawkins, -now Hancock - County


From - Lest We Forget
Jim Callahan

 Satownan D. Collins, her father, 
was a Chief of the tribe


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Chief Tiney Cole






Live as Other Mountaineers 

                                   Are Honest and Law-Abiding Citizens.

SALYERSVILLE, Ky. Sept 29 1901

It is not generally known that there are Indians scattered all over the mountains of Kentucky, but in nearly every country of the eastern section may be found one or more families named Cole, a Catawba chief, who came here from North Carolina and settled in Floyd County nearly a century ago.

The greatest number of 'Old Billie's' descendants living in one place it the Cole family on Big Lick Branch in Magoffin county. The correspondent recently visited the "Cole Nation" as it is called up there and had a long interview with "Chief Tiney." The correspondent also got a snap shot of the chief and some of his children.

Their surroundings and belongings are very primitive and crude, but they seem as contented with their lot as many people more comfortably situated.  The best house in the settlement is the one shown in the picture, which is the home of "Chief Tiney" and his son's family.  It is a log house of two rooms with porch and floors of poplar planks. 

When see by the correspondent "Uncle Tiney" as everybody calls him was sitting on the porch giving orders to some boys who were repairing a rail fence near the house.  He was bareheaded and his primitive clothes and his long hair made him look like the typical pioneer and Indian. The old man cannot walk without help, but his hearing is good and his eyes are very bright. 

In response to questions Chief Tiney gave the following narrative: 

"I was bred and born in Kentucky, but I don't know just where. Before I came to the Big Lick I lived at different places in Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson and Lawrence counties. My father, 'Old Billie' Cole came from North Carolina. He was three-quarters Indian and was not allowed to vote until after the war but I have voted ever since I was 21 years old.  I have voted for eighteen candidates for president. My first vote was for John Quincy Adams and my last was for McKinley.  I always vote republican. I have lived in the Big Lick a long time and I have outlived nearly all my children.  Me and my old 'ooman' were might poor and could not provide for a large family, so we only raised 14 children to be grown, and now they are all dead but six.  I have 44 grandchildren, 53 great grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. 

"I did own a thousand acres of land on this branch but I give it all to my children and I have got nothing now. No I never killed a bear nor deer.  I thought too much of them all, wedge and ax to do much hunting, but I have caught lots of ground hogs and possums and a few coons.  I went hunting with a gun one time but 'daddy' left me to watch by myself and I promised if God would forgive me that time I'd  never to do so again. 

"I don't know much about my people 'Old Billie' my father, brought my mother from Virginia. He had two wives and nine children.  He was 106 years old when he died here on Big Lick.  I will be 96 if I lived til the 24th of next February." 

When asked to sit for a picture "Uncle Tiney" replied:

"Well I never had a picture taken and will if it don't cost too much." 

So the correspondent assisted him to a chair near the house.  He then called for his pipe and "the rifle," and putting his pipe in his mouth where he held it with his hand, as he had not teeth, and the gun across his lap, the old fellow leaned back in his chair with a smile of proud satisfaction and looked the very Chiefest of Chiefs.  He stood by the porch with two swarthy sons and a daughter for a picture of the group. the old chief seemed very proud of the opportunity to talk about his Indian relationship and to have his picture taken but he seemed prouder still of a big twist of ''home-made" which the correspondent gave him. 

Wallace Cole, a son of Chief Tiney is a democratic politician of some local influence.  His brother Shepherd Cole who lives at Hager in this county is a well known lawyer and politician and is a democratic candidate for county attorney.  these two, Wallace and Shepherd Cole, were a little bit more ambitious than their kinsmen. They attended school and for several years Wallace taught the public school in the "Cole district." Wallace being a teacher and Shepherd a lawyer they became the tribe's mentors, so to speak. 

Chief Tiney used to be a famous "witch factor." When the simple folk living near the Cole settlement could not get their bread to rise or their cows to five good milk they would blame the witches and send for 'Old Tiney" who would appear and prescribe remedies, with the result that the superstitious victims would for a time be convinced that the witch had been deprived of her power to inflict further injury.  

The Cole nation schoolhouse is near Uncle Tiney's home.  There are fifty three pupils in the district and thirty seven of them were in school at the time of our visit. The young lady teacher and others having dealings with the folk of that settlement have a great time with the names.  They generally use the same name at several christenings and affix some distinguishing word or phrase. Thus they have Old Valentine and Young Valentine, Big Adam and Little Adam, Preacher John, John Page and John Wesley, Old George, Long George and George Washington.  The settlement has sons named for Washington, Jefferson Buchanan, Lincoln, Tilden and Garfield. 

Links to Cole Family 

Bet Great Granddaughter of  Cherokee Chief Billy Cole

1900 Census
Magoffin County, Kentucky

This modified form of Schedule No 1 is to be used in making the enumeration of Indians, both those on the reservations and those living in family groups outside of reservations.

Detached Indians living either in white or negro families outside of reservations should be enumerated on the general population schedule (Form 7-224) as members of the families in which they are found:  but detached whites or negroes living in Indian families should be enumerated on this schedule as members of the Indian families in which they are found.  In other words, every family composed mainly of Indians should be reported entirely on this schedule and every family composed mainly of person not Indian should be reported entirely on the general population schedule. 

1900-1910 Census - Cole Indians

Although the Coles [and other families] are listed on the 1900 census as Cherokee Indians, living as Indians in Magoffin County, in the Special 1900 Census, a Government Document, their Cherokee Applications in 1907 were rejected.  Oddly in 1910 they are still recognized by the US Government as Indians.
Eastern Cherokee Applications

There is a small group west of that main stream that went north down the Big Sandy River in Magoffin County, near Salyersville, Kentucky.  These people appear to be primarily from this original Granville County group, but one begins to find other families in Magoffin County - Freeman, Perkins, Cole and Nichols, who did not originate in Granville County, North Carolina but are from southeastern Virginia, in Suffolk County; from a small former Indian community called Skeetertown.  
Cherokee Communities in the South - Robert K. Thomas

This article appeared in a number of newspapers and although it mentions a 'picture' of his family and home none of the papers I found carried the pictures.

Although it says 'Old Billie' descended from the Catawba, it could be an error on the part of the journalist or it could be that "Old Billie Cole" was a Catawba and married the woman of the Cherokee Tribe. 

The following story of "Fannie York Stevenson" written by Peggy Wellbern  as told to her by her Mother-in-law, Crissie Wellbern, w...