Monday, April 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #14 - Margaret Slaughter Williams: Prisoner of the Great Mythical Cloud

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

Wikipedia: Creative Commons License

My maternal 3rd great grandmother was captured and held prisoner by a great mythical cloud. Family tales from all of her descendants varied from one branch to the other.

"We are Cherokee." 
"No we are Pawnee." 
"Not what I heard. We are Comanche."
"No we are Chicasaw."
"We are Creek."

So how did so many branches believe so differently? My favorite tale of her descendants was one of intrigue, adventure, and romance. The type of tale most women love to read about - especially when it's your ancestor.
"One of the Williams men disagreed with the way the Indians were treated. He traveled to North Carolina and chose a Cherokee bride. He walked the Trail of Tears with her and her family." 
Stories like this were passed down for several generations. So who was this mysterious bride? Which Williams man married her? If it was not a Cherokee bride then who in the family was Native American? I set out on my own adventure hoping to find a beautiful love story or at least find which of the Five Tribes we descended from.

The only female who qualified for the Cherokee bride story was Margaret Slaughter. She was known as Peggy to the family. She was the right age to walk the Trail of Tears. She married into the Williams family. Her husband was James M. Williams. He was known as Big John. There was just one tiny little problem. They had their first child in 1804 which means they married before the Trail the Tears. Oh well. There goes the adventure and romance side of the story! However, I was still intrigued. What was her story and ethnicity? Was she Native American? If not her could it be her mother? How and when did this myth start? "Where there is smoke there is fire". Who started the fire and fanned the flames?

Margaret Slaughter is the daughter of Walter and Susannah Margaret Webb Slaughter. She was born about 1780 in North Carolina. I researched her parents and grandparents. No Native Americans here. They are predominately from the British Isles. Another myth busted! That's okay though because my 3rd great grandmother is worthy of a story and should be redeemed from the cloud of myth she was placed on.

Margaret's family migrated to Amite County, Mississippi where she met and married James Williams. Her husband was sixteen years her senior. He served in the American Revolution. Their nine children were born in Mississippi and Georgia. Their children were Matilda, Luke, Hiram, James B., Rebecca, William, John, Thomas, and Emeline. I descended from John.

The family moved around fairly often. Can you imagine moving by wagon with all these children in tow? Margaret had her hands full. The good news for Margaret was they didn't travel too far until the children were all grown.

They moved to Louisiana after the 1820 census and before 1830. Margaret was fifty-two when her husband filed for military pension.  By 1850 they had moved to Leon County, Texas where they would spend their remaining days. Margaret died at the age of eighty.

It is not known who started the family tales but Margaret and her mother were not Indian. The flames were fanned to a point to where some of Margaret and her mother's descendant filed applications to join the Cherokee Tribe in the late 1800's to early 1900's. They were all denied. However many descendants do not know that today and still believe we are Indian through Margaret or her mother.

Today I celebrate my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Slaughter Williams.

Beam me up Cathy - back to top

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