Brown and Guess/Gist: Native American Research

Written and submitted by Vance Hawkins.


I’d like to thank many relatives and others for helping with this research. Carol, my sister, found information about information about the marriage of Harriet Guess and David B Brown. A “cousin“, Carla Davenport from California, was researching our family years before I was doing so. Page Beagle, my Uncle‘s granddaughter, found our family mentioned in “Indian Pioneer Papers”. Would especially like to thank Don Sticher, a Gist/uess/t researcher who isn’t even descended from my branch of the Gist/uess/t surname, doggedly stuck with me, stuck to his guns, and helped us to find our REAL ancestors. Mostly, I want to thank my Father, who was a good man, as honest as any man who ever lived.

I have been obsessed with trying to find our Indian blood. The following describes a part of that quest. Since it led back to Lawrence/Winston/Walker Counties, I have been graciously asked to write a little something about us. Well, here it is.

A Little Bit About the History of Our Family

Howdy. I am 56 years old, as of Oct 2009, and I’ll be 57 in late December. Dad (A. O. Hawkins) was born August 15, 1915. He passed away in October 1992. He always said his maternal grandmother, Josephine [Brown] Richey (1854-1932), who was a midwife, attended to his birth on the family farm in Southwestern Oklahoma. They lived on neighboring farms in what was called “Holton Community” or township -- there was no town there, just a lot of small farmers living on or near Deep Red Creek in Eastern Tillman County, Oklahoma. It had been part of the last opening of Oklahoma Territory to White Settlement in 1906 and was known as "The Big Pasture." Dad’s family had moved there from what is now Stephens County, Oklahoma, but back then was the Chickasaw Nation, in Stephens County. Well, more on that later.

To get to school, Dad used to say, he walked past his grandparents farm. He said sometimes he stopped by there for an hour or town on the way home from school. He used to talk about how poor they were, saying he sometimes walked to school with no shoes, because he didn’t have any. I used to have a school photo of him shoeless, but I don’t know what happened to it. As a child I used to think, yeah, sure Dad -- but the older I get, I know it was true. That was the Dust Bowl era, and everyone was penniless.

Anyhow, he said he’d stop by his grandparents house and when he was old enough, he took a class called “Oklahoma History” . He said his grandma looked through his Oklahoma History Book, point at an Indian, and say “Did you know you are related to him?” Now years later, after we found out Dad’s grandma’s mother’s maiden name was “Guess”, we thought we were related to Sequoyah. I remember showing Dad a copy of that famous painting of Sequoyah done by either King or Caplin, I forget which (both painted him) and asking him if that was the picture his grandma had shown him. All he ever said however, was “I just don’t remember”. Now everyone who saw him immediately thought he WAS an Indian. Now other cousins had similar stories of an Indian ancestor, but none of us knew where it came from. We knew it was from great grandma Richey’s side, but that was all.

Several of us started looking through the old rolls, especially Cherokee, but our family wasn’t included, and one by one, most relatives gave up. Dad used to mention his cousin Eunice (daughter of his Aunt Bea) once said she found some Indian papers about us, and he asked her about it, and she said “Awe, you just want that Indian money.” Dad said that so hurt his feelings that he seldom spoke to her after that. I have tried to find her descendants but I haven’t had any luck. I heard she married an Indian but don’t know any more than that.

Another relative whom I got some of my early research results from was Carla Davenport. Her husband’s grandma was Etta [Richey] Davenport. Now the Davenport’s came to the Chickasaw Nation from Georgia, and Etta’s husband was Charley Davenport. I looked them up and his father had been an official in the Confederate government and came to the Chickasaw Nation after the Civil War. Any Oklahoma History Book will tell you a little known fact outside of Oklahoma -- many former Confederate officials moved to both the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations in Southeastern and South Central Oklahoma after the Civil War -- that region of Oklahoma is sometimes called “Little Dixie” to this day, and for that reason. One of Uncle Charley’s brothers married a Chickasaw and I have also run into one of their descendants. She has made a name for herself, become a local historian, and has transcribed many documents of that era, which have set slowly decaying, totally ignored for more than 100 years. Through her, I found the husband of Sarah Ann [Brown] Bull, a White man named Tarlton Bull, had served in the “First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles”. She told me that unit was comprised in the early days of the war, mostly of White Texans, as early in the War, to serve in Indian Territory, they had to serve under the Indian government. However later in the war that requirement was lifted, and some Texas and Arkansas Units did serve in Oklahoma, then Indian Territory. Tarlton became a local celebrity in Lewiston, Denton County, Texas after the Civil War. During a Comanche/Kiowa raid in the early 1870s for horses and cattle, he killed an Indian and there was an article written about it. He moved to Oklahoma after the 1900 census and was still alive for the 1920 census. Dad said he met Tarlton (his great uncle by marriage) once and was impressed by him, saying “he was a great big man, nearly seven feet tall”. Well, Tarlton applied for Confederate Pensions in both Texas and Oklahoma. Texas rejected him but Oklahoma accepted his application. In those papers it said he fought in the two most important battles fought in Indian Territory. It also said he was five feet, eight inches tall. So I suppose Dad was a small child when he saw Tarlton, and sometimes children’s memories can get distorted I suppose. We sometimes forget, or recall incorrectly after the passage of many years.

For our other lines, I found two first cousins of a direct ancestor on the Richey side, surnamed Wayland, served at Fort Gibson, IT, from 1830-1836, and were even on the “First and Second Dragoon Expeditions” in Indian Territory, the same expedition where the painter George Catlin, painted many Plains Indians, also both Sequoyah and Tah-chee., aka Captain Dutch. If you will look at the first treaty signed between the U. S. Government and the Comanche, Kiowa, and Wichita, two Cherokee signed it as guides -- Captain Dutch, and David Melton []. The Cherokee named David Melton descends from the same Melton family found in North Central Alabama, and there is a “Melton’s Bluff” named after them. Captain Dutch was Sequoyah’s KNOWN brother. Interesting there was a record of him where it mentioned his “clan” and it was not the same as Sequoyah’s. I thought that interesting as it means if he was Sequoyah’s brother and it is recorded that they were brothers, well -- they were related on the father’s side, as a Cherokee‘s clan descends from the mother. Both were well known Cherokee, with Captain Dutch being the last traditional “War Chief” of the Cherokee. There has been no traditional War Chief since his death in the 1840s. Anyhow it was while on this journey to Oklahoma that Catlin painted both Sequoyah and Tahchee, aka Captain Dutch. My Joseph Richey served at Fort Gibson in 1846 and 1847. His wife was Sarah Wayland, whose first cousin’s had served at Fort Gibson 10-15 years earlier. It was their son, Jeff Richey, who married Josephine Brown. They are my great grandparents. This is the same Josephine that told my father that we were related to “an Indian” in his Oklahoma History book. I suppose I have rambled, but please just bear with me.

Dad was a natural born story teller, with his stories about the Dust Bowl and World War Two. And it was his stories got me interested in the past, and specifically in genealogy. One road block was our Indian blood. No one could trace it back then, and I have had great difficulty in trying to trace it today, as well. Now we can find most of our ancestors, but the Brown’s and Gist/uess/t surnames have for years, been hard to trace.

Trying to find our Indian Blood in Oklahoma and Arkansas

There is another family story my mother told me about my Dad’s side of the family. She said everyone in the neighborhood knew Dad’s family was Indian/mixed. She said she was told that his grandparents, Jeff and Josey [Brown] Richey had thought about and applying for Dawes, had talked to others about it, but “something happened” that upset them, and they never filed. So we are not on the accepted or rejected rolls. Anyhow it seems like someone said something to them that upset them, and so they just didn’t file. Dad never mentioned this, but Mom did. She was born one month after Dad, on a neighboring farm, and Josephine (Dad’s grandma) was also the mid-wife that delivered her on the family farm in 1915.

And I already mentioned Dad’s grandma (Josey) telling them they were related to “an Indian” whose picture was in his Oklahoma History text-book. Well later I started thinking Dad’s generation was passing away, and only Aunt Lorena, Dad’s younger sister of that generation, still was alive. This was about 2000 or 2002 or so, somewhere in there. Well she married a G. I. Stationed at nearby Fort Sill during World War Two, and they moved up to his home which was Indianapolis, Indiana. I wrote her a letter and told her what Dad had said about his grandma’s story and asked if she heard any story about us having Indian blood, or about us being related to Sequoyah.

Here is part of her reply:

I remember more what our Mother told us than grandmother Richey. We had a wonderful grandmother and I suppose she talked more about Sequoyah to the boys than to us girls. Alpha [Vance’s note -- my Dad] was almost six years older than I. She was a Brown before she married Grandfather Richey. Her mother was a Guess before she married great grandfather Brown. I think mama said she was a niece of George Guess “Sequoyah”. . . . Our mother looked a lot like some Indian trait [Vance’s note: that’s what she wrote]. . . . I saw a picture of Uncle Hoten and Uncle Otho . . . [in] A school picture of the Old Holton grade school just about a mile and ½ from where we were raised South and East of Manitou. They definitely showed some Indian blood.

Lula, Lorena, and A.O.

[Vance’s note: Manitou is a small town about 200 folks in Tillman, County, Oklahoma. In her day it also had about 200 people. I have a copy of that photograph she is mentioning. It is a good Identification also, because the photographer places the names in order, and we know the two boys who look Indian in the photo, are the two Richey boys. They were grandma‘s brothers.]

. . . Grandma and Grandpa Richey came to Oklahoma before Oklahoma became a state. They lived in covered wagons when grandma and Aunt Bea were little girls. I used to love to hear her talk and tell when they were children. . . . Sage grass was taller than mama and Aunt Bea. . . . Both Andrew and Raymond were born before Oklahoma was a state. They and Cecil were born in a half-dugout. [Vance’s note: Dad’s brothers and sister’s were Andrew, Raymond, Cecil, Joe, Alpha (Dad), Lula, Lorena, and Eual Lee, who was killed in Normandy during WW2.

The last page of her letter has been lost. She ended the letter by saying, and I am paraphrasing, “I’m quite sure mama said her grandma was Sequoyah’s niece or great niece.”

Here is a photo of my grandma, who is the person referred to by Aunt Lorena in the letter above, as inferring that we descend from a brother of Sequoyah’s.

Now I was about 10 years old when she died, and I met her many times as a child. I remember what she looked like and I know that she is the woman in the photograph.

For years I was stuck here, knowing my ancestors had come to Oklahoma before it was a state. Dad had said they came from Arkansas before that. A cousin,Page Beagle, had told me a great Uncle had written about us in a Dust Bowl era project called “Indian/Pioneer Papers”. People of all races wrote about what life was like in Indian Territory, what later became Oklahoma. They got old timers -- Whites, Indians, and Blacks, Mixed-race people -- to tell what life was like here in the 19th century. Well my great uncle -- Oscar Taylor Richey -- was interviewed for this project.

From a website about this collection:

About the Collection

In 1936, the [Oklahoma Historical] society teamed with the history department at the University of Oklahoma to get a Works Progress Administration (WPA) writers' project grant for an interview program. The project employed more than 100 writers scattered across the state, with headquarters in Muskogee, where Grant Foreman served as project director. Asked to "call upon early settlers and (record) the story of the migration to Oklahoma and their early life here" the writers conducted more than 11,000 interviews, edited the accounts into written form, and sent them to the project director who completed the editorial process and had them typed into more than 45,000 pages. When assembled, the Indian-Pioneer Papers consisted of 112 volumes, with one set at the university, the other at the society. There are only two complete bound sets of originals.

Below are a few excerpts from that interview with my great uncle:

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

Date: August 23, 1937

Name: Oscar T. Richey

Post Office: Lone Wolf, Oklahoma

My parents were Natives of Arkansas and grew up near Fort Smith which is just across the line from Indian Territory. . . .

After they were married in the year 1872, they moved into Indian Territory and settled in either the present Sequoyah or Leflore Counties. I do not know on which side of the Arkansas River they lived, but I remember very clearly hearing my mother say that the territory was like a wilderness and that they had to go back to Fort Smith for everything they had to buy and that when they needed protection all the officers of the law had to come from Fort Smith.

Mother never ceased to tell us children of an experience which she had while living at that place. Two White men and Two Negroes committed some kind of a crime in the Indian Territory, were taken to Fort Smith tried and convicted and were sentenced to be hanged. When the day of the hanging came, she and Father like everybody else in the country started early for the hanging was to be a public affair, and they traveled all day through the woods and across the streams and when they reached Fort Smith there were literally a thousand people which was a great number at that time, gathered as if at a picnic to witness the hanging. Mother watched the hanging and it was so horrible to her that she regretted attending such a thing all the remainder of her life. . . .

My parents then moved to Texas where there was more settlement and I was born in Denton County, September 10, 1881. In 1889 we came back to Indian Territory and Father bought a 10 year lease . . .Our lease was East of the present town of Duncan in Stephens County, on Mud Creek.. . . .

Living was pretty hard for us as we were poor and the land had to be cleared and broken before we could plant or grow any crops. Everything had to be hauled by wagon from Nocona, in Montague County, Texas and the roads were only wagon tracks with no bridges on the streams to amount to anything and the bridges which were built would wash away every time there was a flood on the river or creek. At first we depended for our food mostly on rabbits, squirrel, fish and other small game. These animals furnished us with meat and we raised a little corn on land which we were able to clear out. The brush had to be cut by hand or with ax and burned. . . .

After the rock Island Railroad came through the country living conditions improved for w e could buy our necessities and sell our produce at Duncan instead of being forced to go to Nocona, Texas.

One last thing on this topic. I received a lot of help from Carla Davenport. She was wife to the grandson of my great Aunt Etta (called Ettie), grandma’s sister. She was a sort of family historian, and had old records, all of which were lost when she passed on in the 1960s.

I asked her about our Indian blood, and she had been researching it longer than I. Here is something I received from her:

This is very sad. When I went to visit Ettie in 1965, she showed me many pictures and then took out the Bible, but would not let me read it for myself or even hold it. I asked her why and she said because their spelling was not correct. Even though I told her I could still read it she refused to let me. She said she would read it to me. So she did, read the "parts" I asked about. Then when she died, my mother-in-law found the center section of the Bible ripped out and thrown in the trash. She was only able to salvage 1 page for me, that was all that was left to my knowledge. Apparently someone wanted the Bible and did not care about anything else. Then she found the oldest photos and tintypes we had gone through in another trash basket, and she brought those to me. Makes me sick to think of the callous disregard for her things.

It seems the entry for David B. Brown and Harriet Guess was exactly that and she insisted that her name was Guest. This was very confusing to me as the marriage record as recorded from the marriage index by B. Sistler was Harriet Guss. (Thank goodness, your sister Carol had a copy of the original from the Memphis courthouse. Now we know it was Guess.)

When I told Ettie that J. L. (her son) had told me about her Indian heritage, she was furious, and said she did NOT HAVE ANY INDIAN. Of course, we all know that is not true from what she has told so many of the kids, even J.L. knew. Unfortunately, my baby had developed an earache on the trip and she was very disruptive until we found a doctor. When I came to different photos, she would tell me who they were, we did not get through the entire box because I had to cook dinner and after I had cleaned up I found she had put the box and Bible away and wanted to go to bed and would NOT get them out again. The next morning we left early so I was really elated that I "inherited" what little I did.


I met Aunt Ettie (my great aunt) a couple of times she was very stubborn, but I always admired her. She lived in Marlow, in Northern Stephens County, Oklahoma. I have seen her handwriting and she did misspell many words. I recall as a boy seeing her entire back yard was dug up and filled with every vegetable you can imagine. She was a little old lady, but I knew she had dug up that whole yard herself.

Although the “above” was well and good, it did not tell us where my ancestors lived before they came to Arkansas and Oklahoma, and there is NO mention at all of us having Indian blood in any old document that I have come across, something that I have since proven TRUE through an autosomal DNA test, and something that the evidence of our family photographs also attests. We DO have Indian blood, but where did they come from? All the census records said my great-great grandpa David B. Brown (1822-1865) was born in Alabama, but where in Alabama? Some census records said his wife, Harriet Guess (1817-1886), was born in Alabama and some say Tennessee. More said Tennessee than Alabama, but both are possible based on census records, I supposed. Which was it? And here do I go from here?

Our Gist/uess’s and Brown’s Found in Alabama and Tennessee

Carla did send me a copy of an old tin-type of Harriet. Her email said she looked through the trash at Great Aunt Ettie’s funeral, and recalled many old tin-types and other documents were just thrown away. She remembered Great Aunt Ettie saying this was her Grandma, Harriet, and our great grandma Josephine taken as a baby. So she saved this old photograph from the trash can and took it home with her.

The older lady in this photo, Harriet [Guess] Brown. would have been a child in Lawrence County, Alabama, in the household of Rachel Gist -- the same Rachel that married Thomas Tolbert in 1820, the same Rachel Tolbert that married Emanuel McNutt in 1822, the same Emanuel McNutt on 1830 census still in Lawrence County, Alabama.

We have found one of Harriet’s brother, James Gist. He served on the 29th Missouri, Union, during the Civil War. His pension application, more extensive than Confederate pensions, said he was born in Lawrence County, Alabama, married in Shelby County, Tennessee (same as Harriet) in 1847, and described him as “dark complected”, as was Harriet. Ironically Harriet’s husband, David Brown, served in the 8th Arkansas Confederate. While David was taken POW at the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, James Gist, his brother in law, was wounded at the first battle for Vicksburg, both in 1862. Both also died in as the war was ending, in 1865. Some of James descendants still live in Missouri.

Back to Carla Davenport. She became convinced that we descended from John Brown found in Lawrence County, Alabama in 1820. She also became convinced out Guess family came from the same region. Then one day I just quit hearing from her. She lived in California and I lived in Oklahoma. I suspect maybe she passed away, but I don’t know for sure. After a few more years I believe I have finally put it together. I have had some help from a cousin. Here goes.

Recently Don Sticher and I were e-mailing each other back and forth, while researching the Gist/uess/t surname. He descends from that surname, but a different branch than me. After searching months and months with him, and years before that, we DID find at least one, and possibly both, parents of my Harriet Guess.

Our Gist/uess/t’s

Our breakthrough was discovered by Don Sticher. He knew my Harriet Guess had married David Brown in Shelby County, Tennessee, in July, 1841. I had previously seen Rachel Guist marry Thomas Talbot/Tolbert in 1820 and wondered if we were related to Rachel, but that is as far as I went with it. He found another reseache online had a website showing that Thomas Talbot/Tolbert died, and saw the executors of his estate were Rachel, his new wife, and James Havens. He then saw that James Havens had a daughter named Rachel and this was her. Armed with this information, Don found that Rachel Talbot married Emanuel McNutt in 1822 in Lawrence County, Alabama and on the 1830 census for Lawrence County, Alabama, they have four children too old to have been McNutt's -- they were Gist's by Rachel's first husband, an unknown Gist whom we suspect was "James". The coup-de-gras was the 1840 census of Shelby County, Tennessee. Emanuel McNutt was living there with his family in 1840. From this point foreward, everything just fit into place.

Here are the Gist/uess/t families that tie together through DNA, family stories of an Indian ancestor, or genealogical records. I sent Don Sticher some information and my "best guess" as to who descended from whom. Here is what he wrote me back -- his makes more sense than what I had sent him, so I am sending it. He said:


I'm pretty much in agreement with what you have. I do have few differences about who may belong where. I haven't had a chance to really think about the relationships yet but now that I know which Aaron was the son of the horse thief, maybe I can now make more sense of things. This is my tentative grouping for the various people.

The following is based on both his and my research efforts. It is based on evidence, both through genealogical records and genetic research of DNA testing, that has grouped these families together.

1. John Gist - born about 1750 or so. Lived in east TN. Was in Anderson County TN from at least 1785 until June 1802 when appointed co-executor of Aaron Gist estate. Gone by Mar 1803 when the Anderson County Sheriff noted he had moved from the County. No further records for this John Gist.

The following was written of this John Gist/Gess, and was taken from The Land of the Lake: An Early History of Campbell County, Tennessee By Dr. G. L. Ridenour, LaFollette, TN, 1941. Excerpt from Pages 7 and 8:


The winter of 1779-1780 was very cold. So many elk, deer and buffalo gathered in the shelter around the meadows and cane-brakes along the creek between Pine mountain and Walnut mountain that the food for these large animals was soon exhausted, and scores of the them perished in severe continued cold. Hunters and Indians alike avoided the beautiful valley in the spring and early summer of 1780 on account of the stench from the dead game. The name Stinking Creek has persisted for the scenic stream until the present.

In the summer of 1785 several parties of surveyors were running the metes and bounds of North Carolina land grants of the south side of Clinch River. At the same time the surveyors could not resist crossing the stream to select the choice locations for land grants with reference to Henderson and Company’s Great Survey. Thomas Hutchins, a brother-in-law and a Deputy Surveyor under Stockley Donelson during the fall and winter of 1785-86, surveyed tracts on both sides the river.

Brooks and a number of woodsmen in company that year surveyed land “Including a Large Buffaloe lick.” This party gave the name of Reed’s Creek to one of the streams. George Brooks, a brother of Castleton Brooks, a Long Hunter who settled in Hickory Cove and had been killed by the Indians in 1776 or 1777 at his cabin, and Andrew Reed were skilled woodsmen and famous hunters and were often directing parties of woodsmen for the protection of the surveyors.

One 340 acre tract of land calls for a location on both sides Beaver dam Creek “including William Sharp’s improvement at Reed’s corner along a conditional line between William Sharp and John Brady on a cross fence down a small branch, thence along the fence twenty-nine poles striking the creek at a bent so up said creek to Miller’s line where John Guest (Gist) now lives.” [Vance’s note: the phrase “where John Guest (Gist) now lives” meant during the time the land was surveyed, abt 1785.]

This John Gist was the son of an Indian trader and a Cherokee woman. He was kinsman of Sikwayi, or Sequoya, whose English name was George Gist, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet of syllables. Years later Aaron Guest of Kentucky acknowledge the receipt of his part of “the estate of my father Aaron Guest, Deceased, where Jason Cloud and John Guest (Gist) were executors.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Ridenour gives NO source information as to where he obtained this information. We have a possible unknown brother of Sequoyah, which would agree in great detail to what Aunt Lorena wrote me, when she said her mother had said her grandma, Harriet [Guess] Brown being “niece or great niece” of Sequoyah.

… 2. Nathaniel Gist - born about 1775. Lived in Pulaski and Wayne County KY in early 1800s. Was in Campbell County, TN in 1836 and Roane County, TN in 1839.

…… 3. Thomas Gist - born about 1800 or so.

…….. + Nancy Roney m. Lawrence County, Alabama, Nov 1818.
…… 3. Richard Gist - born abt 1800. Married Jane McKinney
…….. + Jane McKinney, m. Sep 1821, in Lawrence County, Alabama. Moved to MS about 1836
…… 3. Christopher Gist - born abt 1804.

…….. + Mary McNutt
…… 3. Aaron Gist - born abt 1807.

……. + m. Nancy Unknown

…… 3. Mary Gist - born abt 1815-1820.

…….. + Joseph Smith. Lived Wayne County, KY. Aaron Gist (above) was living in this Smith household in 1860 Whitley County, KY. Per Smith researchers Mary, wife of Joseph Smith, was a “Gist” and was part Indian.

… 2. Aaron Gist, Sr. - Horse Thief - born about 1775. Hung Oct 1801 in Knox County, TN. Apparently recently married at the time of his death and probably married to a daughter of Jason Cloud. His widow was most likely under 21 years old when he died and thus her father (or a brother) would have been made executor of Aaron’s estate. One known son - Aaron Gist, Jr., born 1801 - who was in living in Livingston County, KY. in 1822 when he turned 21. Aaron Sr.’s widow probably remarried and moved to Livingston Co, KY shortly after Aaron Sr. died.
… 2. James - Born about 1785-1790? Largely unknown. Only record is 1808 Wayne County, KY tax list. He died about 1819 leaving 4 fatherless children.

….. + Rachel Havens b. 1790s, m. abt 1812 and died sometime after 1840. Of the 4 Gist children, two have been identified. Rachel remarried Thomas Tolbert in 1820, who died soon after. Then she married Emanuel McNutt, in 1822, also in Lawrence County, Alabama. Emanuel McNutt is on 1830 census Lawrence County, Alabama, living near several other McNutt families. My John Brown, with 2 children, lives nearby also. The son in the John Brown household was David B Brown, my ancestor, who later married Harriet Guess, a step-daughter of Emanuel McNutt. By 1840 census, Emanuel McNutt’s family is on Shelby County, Tennessee census.

Mary Gist - Mother of David Smith. David Smith being the connection to Rachel Havens. [Vance's note: David and James are listed together in many documents in Lawrence County, Alabama] David Smith was born 1777, so this Mary Gist must have been born about 1760 or so. This would make her about the same age as the Old John Gist of Anderson County, Tennessee.

…… 3. Harriet Guess/ist, of whom I descend.

……. + David B. Brown m. 1841 I Shelby County, Tennessee. -- more about him in the next section about our Brown’s.

…… 3. James Gist Jr. -- a descendant of his has said they were told they had Indian blood.

…….. + Elizabeth Frazier,. m. 1847
[Vance’s note: Marriage of Rachel and James Sr is NOT proven -- it is based on i.] James Havens, Rachel’s father, close ties with David Smith, husband of Mary (Gist) Smith in E Tn, S. Ky, and N. Al. ii.] in legal arraignments when he passed on iii.] James Gist Sr being on 1807 tax list in the same county as James Havens was found from 1805-1810 at least and iv.] only son found so far of Rachel was named James, same name as the elder James Gess. v.] Rachel is first mentioned as “Rachel Guest” in marriage records of Lawrence County, Alabama, implying a first marriage to a Mr. Gist/uess/t]. vi. James is the right age to have married Rachel, and lastly, vii. There is no other “Gist” surnamed individual found on any census, tax records, or any other surviving record -- living near the Haven’s at the time this marriage must have taken place.

Some other names:

Harvey Guess Ridenour - Born 1845. Not sure how he ended with the middle name of “Guess”. He was the son of William Ridenour and Elizabeth Grant, so it wasn’t his mother’s name. Not clear which side of the family may have had the “Guess” relative. William Ridenour was born 1800 in Campbell County. Elizabeth Grant was also born about 1800. Must be a connection there somewhere though or Harvey Guess Ridenour wouldn’t have the Guess name.

Thomas Gist - born est 1750? - Was in Livingston County, KY by 1800. Apparently older when he shows up. Was a town father, Justice of the Peace and Sheriff. Had a ferry at Smithland, KY and was granted a license for a tavern there in 1801. Died 1806-1807 leaving a widow Martha. Children? No Gists found there until Aaron Gist shows up in Nov 1822. Was this Thomas related to the Gist’s of Anderson County County? Brother of John Gist perhaps? Or was it just coincidence?

Jason Cloud - Born 1747 Pittsylvania Co. VA. Died 1827 Campbell Co. TN. In 1803 Jason Cloud was given permission by the court to sell the property of Aaron Gist. Thus Aaron's estate was converted to cash. When Aaron, Jr. turned 21 (1822) he specifically stated he wanted to collect the money held in the care of Jason Cloud. This also makes me think Aaron Jr.'s mother was a Cloud. She would have known her father had received money for the estate and that it really belonged to her son. I think maybe a non-relative who had moved away from the area would have forgotten about or not bothered to try to collect money from a 20 year old estate.

Of the above families, descendants of all of them have family stories of “an Indian ancestor”. DNA testing also connects all these families very closely together. Some of the above I have directly quoted my friend Don Sticher, and some of it is from my own words. I have italicized them. The quote from the book is also Italicized. To distinguish the two, I have made the quote from the book in red. Lawrence/Winston/Walker County researchers in Alabama will recorgnze some of the names above as living in those counties from earliest records in 1818 past 1850 and/or 60, with most of them moving off by the latter date. What I have said is but the tip of the iceberg. For more details please contact me. It gets pretty complicated. It is important to note these Gist/uess/t’s are NOT related to the children of Moses Guess/t who also lived in early day Lawrence County, Alabama, and this is borne out by both family stories and DNA results. All those descending from the above families claim an Indian ancestor, and those descending from Moses say they have NO Indian blood. It is interesting that DNA results also say these are two different Gist/uess/t families that are NOT related.

Lastly, Our Brown’s

David Smith's (mentioned below) mother's maiden name was Mary Gist. Mary was sister to John Gist, most likely candidate to be the grandfather to my Harriet Gist/uess/t -- email me for evidence and you'll agree. It's complicated.

From "Warrior Mountains Indian Heritage" by Richy "Butch" Walker, p 276, there is the following --

"John Bull, In 1829, a frontiersman and famous rifle maker by the name of John Bull engraved 2 of his masterpieces from the Warrior Mountains. According to information provided by Mr. Dan Wallace, the exceptional rifle is inscribed on a silver platelet in the stock, "John Bull for David Smith, Warrior Mountain . . .

"According to Old land records of Lawrence County, Alabama by Margaret Cowart, David Smith entered 79.92 acres of land . . . near Indian Tomb Hollow on September 18, 1818 and 79.92 acres on September 28, 1818 . . . He married Charlotte Ann Havens, who was the daughter of James Havens. According to Havens family legend . . . James Havens was buried next to his Indian friends on the side of Warrior Mountains. . ."

There was a website for a college in Rolla, Missouri that had some Smith/Havens papers. Well I sent off for some of them and was sent some few papers, maybe 20 sheets. Here are a couple of things I thought interesting right off the bat --

It mentions David Smith (whose mother was a Gist) and Sarah Havens administrators of the estate of the late James Havens. This is in Lawrence County, Alabama. It mentions 2 quarter sections of land, and says the estate of the deceased is not suffecient to pay it off. He says all his payments were made to the United States, from whom the land was purchased. It says they don't have suffecient funds to pay the ballance due, then ends with the following --

. . . Two quarter sections of land subject to the dower of Sarah Havens, widow of said deceased, upon the following ?audit? [can’t make it out] to wit one half at a ?[audit maybe?] of 3 months, and the other half at a ?audit? Until the 25th December 1826 they having entered into bond in the sum of fourteen hundred dollars with William McNutt and John Brown as their security. A copy. Test. John Gallagher. clk.

This means John Brown and William McNutt would pay off the debt if the widow Sarah Havens couldn't. Now remember "Emanuel McNutt's" name was just 47 names from "John Brown" on 1830 census of Lawrence County, Alabama. I recacll seeing 7 McNutt families within 3 or 4 pages of John Brown, on the 1830 census records, and William was 2 of them, one elder and one younger. That is the SAME John Brown I have long believed was the father of MY David Brown, the same David who married Rachel's daughter, Harriet Guess/t/ist/ess/t . . . This shows MY John Brown knew these Havens' and McNutt's.

The above document was dated 1826. By 1826 Rachel and Emanuel had been married for 3 or 4 years. My David was just 3 or 4 years old, and Harriet, living in the Emanuel McNutt household, was twice his age, 8 at least. So they knew each other as children.

At least one other interesting thing came with this record. Mentioned is made of a son of James Havens, Thomas Havins, b. Mar 7, 1793. It said he was born in Tennessee and died in Coryell Co., Tx., 22 Apr 1883. His children are listed. Interesting, his 5th child (he had 12) was named Thomas Tolbert Havins, b. 15 Dec., 1822, and he was born in Lawrence County, Alabama. He was born not long after Thomas Talbert, Rachel's second husband, had died. This documents my Rachel [Havens/Gist/Tolbert/McNutt] even closer to the Havens family.

It also ties my Brown's to the Gist children of Rachel, the Havens, Smith's, and McNutt's.

My sister said she once asked grandma about our Indian ancestry. She has said grandma said “her grandparents” were “Blanket Indians”. She said she asked grandma what that meant. Why were they called “Blanket Indians?" She said grandma responded, “Cause that’s what they wore.” Now grandma’s grandparents would have been David B Brown and Harriet Gist/uess/t Brown. They are never mentioned as having been “Indian” in any document I have found, but family story states this as do our old photographs.

The following is what we have discovered about our Brown’s:

1. John Brown. Born about 1790, give or take a few years, location unknown. His family is still in Lawrence County in 1830. 1830 census Lawrence County, Alabama. John Brown 100001, 010001 ó John Brown, 30-40, Mary 30-40, 1 daughter 5-10, 1 son 0-5. They live near the Emanuel McNutt household where John’s son, David’s future wife lives. There is also a household surnamed “Black” living nearby as well, perhaps his wife’s relations. By 1840 they are on Walker County, Alabama’s census . On 1847 tax records John Brown is still alive. By 1850 census, his widow Mary is head of household in Walker County, Alabama, so he seems to have died between 1847 and 1850. Nothing is known of him before his marriage to “Polly” [Mary] Black.

.. + Polly Black Dec 23, 1820 in Lawrence County, Alabama. Mary is in Walker County, Alabama, 1850 census, as head of household. Family was in Lawrence County, Arkansas, on 1860 census.

… 2. Unknown daughter, possibly Francis who married John Randolph. I say this because J E Randolph was bondsman for the wedding of David B. and Harriet [Guess] Brown.. We have never discovered who J E Randolph was, or how he is related to the family.

… 2. David B. Brown. David Brown was born in Lawrence County, Alabama, abt 1823 or 4. Married Shelby County, Tennessee, 1841, appears to have returned to Walker County, Alabama by 1847 as “David Brown” is a taxable household in Walker or Winston County. David Brown is a taxable household for the first time in Lawrence County, Arkansas in 1848.

….. + Harriet Gist/uess/t m. 1841 Shelby County, Tennessee.

………3. John H. [Henry] Brown b. 1852 (9) (10) (11) (13) (14) To Los Angeles County, California where they are found 1900 census only. Have not found a ny other record of them past that date.
…………+ Cariane ?? (12), b. Tx. Probably married in Denton County, Texas.
……………4 Emma (12)
……………4 Ida
……………4 Minnie Bailey
………3. Josephine Brown b. 1854, m. 1872, d. 1932.
………..+ Jeffrey Hoten Richey b. 1851 -- [I have more information on these families if you want it]
……………4 Charlotte Richey, died as infant, Leflore County, Choctaw Nation
……………4 Joseph Richey, died as infant, Leflore County, Choctaw Nation
……………4 Etta Richey
………………+ Charles Davenport
……………4 Swaney Adow Richey
……………4 Oscar Taylor Richey
………………4 Loney Clementine Richey

…………….. + Noah Allen Hawkins
……………4 Beatrice Pearl Richey
……………4 Jeffrey Hoten [called by Dad “Uncle Hoten” ] Richey
……………4 Otho Richey -- died flu epidemic @ 1919 Tillman County, Oklahoma
………3. Sarah Ann Brown b. Oct 1855, m. 1878
………..+ Tarlton Bull, b. Mar 1845, 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw mounted infantry, 19th and 37th Texas Cavalry, per pension applications he was at just about every major battle in IT. Sarah was his 2nd wife.
……………4 Hattie N., b. Feb 1883
……………4 Alta D. May 1883
……………4 Robert H. Nov. 1888
……………4 Johnnie J. Nov 1890
………3. Amanda Brown
………… + John Knight
……………4 Amy Lee Knight

…………….. + Mr. Goldsberry -- emailed their granddaughter -- have stories of Indian ancestry ”somewhere” in the line, don’t know where.

……3. Orphans living in their household of Dvid and Harriet [Gist/uess/t] Brown

……… Nancy I. Joiner, b 1843 Shelby Co., Tn daughter of Thomas Joiner and Cynthia McNutt. Cynthia was half-sister to Harriet. Married Alfred Brown, David’s younger brother.
………… Thomas McNutt, b. 1834 Lawrence County, Alabama, half-brother to Harriet Married Orlena Brown, David’s younger sister.
………… Nancy A. Loony -- b. 1844, in Alabama -- relationship to David and Harriet is unknown at present.

… 2. Malinda Brown, b. abt 1826 Appears on 1850 census of Walker County household of Mary Brown, as “Linday Brown”. One of her descendants said they were told they had Indian blood on her “Johnson” side -- that would be the Brown side as well, as they don‘t know who the husband of her/our Malinda Brown was, only that he was a “Johnson“.

….. +Unknown Johnson

… 2. Elizabeth Brown, b. 1834. In household of Mary Brown, 1850 Walker Co., Al census. Not found afterwards. Probably married. Descendants might still be in Alabama.

… 2. Orlena Brown

….. + Thomas McNutt

………3 Elizabeth b. @ 1860
………3 Clinton
………3 Laura
…2 Alfred Brown b. @ 1837 Alabama
……+ Nancy I. Joiner b. 2 1845
………3 Mary J b. @ 1865 -- living with my great grandparents per 1880 census, who were married in the home of "Alph Brown" in 1872. Listed as “niece”
………3 Louisa b. @ 1867
………3 Alice b. @ 1870
…2 Nancy Brown b. @ 1841
…2 Martha Brown b. @ 1844
…2 Cynthia “Syntha” Brown b. @ 1846

My John Brown is Not found on 1820 census. 1820 census has Thomas Talbot, single with no children.

1830 census Lawrence County, Alabama

John Brown 100001, 010001 ó John Brown, 30-40, Mary 30-40, 1 daughter 5-10, 1 son 0-5. These 2 children “might be” Frances Brown who married John Randolph and David Brown who married Harriet Gist/uess/t?! J. E. Randolph was bondsman for Harriet Guess and David Brown, in Shelby Co., Tn in 1841 for their marriage. Only a close relative would be the bondsman.

Found 47 names later is

Emanuel McNutt 00201, 110201 ó Emanuel is 20-30, has 2 sons 10-15. Rachel his wife is 30-40, has 2 daughters 15-20, 1 daughter 5-10, and a daughter under 5. We know one older daughter was Harriet and one older son was James Jr -- do not know the other 2 older children. One younger son was Thomas McNutt who married David’s sister Orlena, and another was Cynthia McNutt who married Thomas Joiner. There were “Freedmen” Joiners who claimed to descend from a Cherokee living in Hamilton County, Tennessee, named John Brown. Their application was rejected saying they couldn’t prove their claims.

1840 census Walker County, Alabama

Don’t know how these 3 Brown’s are related.

William Brown 00010001, 0000001 ó 1 male 15-20, 1 male 50-60, 1 female 30-40

Next name

Coleman Brown 10001, 10001 ó 1 male under 5, 1 male 20-30. 1 female under 5, one female 20-30.

2 names later

John Brown 10120001, 0110101 ó this is ours. John is 50-60, 1 male is under 5, 1 male 10-15, 2 males 15-20. His wife Mary is 40-50, 1 female is 5-10. 1 female is 10-15, 1 female is 20-30.

1840 census Shelby County, Tennessee

Emanuel McNutt 0100001, 0020101 ó Emanuel was between 30-40. 1 male is 5-10. Rachel is 40-50. 2 females are 10-15, and 1 female is 20-30. Since Harriet married in Shelby County in 1841, just one year after this census, we suspect the one female 20-30 years old is her.

Next -- compare the ages of John and Mary’s children on 1850 and 60 census to the ages in 1830 and 1840.

1850 census Walker County, Alabama

Mary Brown          49     North Carolina

Linday Brown          25     Alabama

Elizabeth Brown          16     Alabama

Orleny Brown          15     Alabama

Alfred Brown          13     Alabama

Nancy Brown          10     Alabama

Martha Brown          8     Alabama

Sintha Brown          4     Alabama

Nancy Brown          5     Alabama

Levy Brown          3     Alabama -- there was a “Levi Brown” who signed a petition to help get a pension for a “Bill “Black Fox” Looney” after the Civil War. I wonder if he was related?

David Brown          1/12     Alabama (named after his uncle, my g-g-grandpa, I‘d like to think :)

1860 census Lawrence County, Arkansas

Mary Brown           59     Alabama

Nancy J                19     Alabama

Martha L           16     Alabama

Malinda Johnson      34     Alabama

Nancy                13     Alabama

Levi                12     Alabama

David                10     Alabama

Thomas                1     Arkansas

Comparing all 4 census records, we get --
My Brown’s ages and date and place of birth, based on census records
Name (names appear Birth Year per census . Location of Birth

…………………1830 …………… 1840 …………… 1850 ………… 1860 …… Location
John Brown
…………………1790-1800 ………1780-1790 [died btw 1847-1850]
Mary Black
…………………1790-1800 ……… 1790-1800 …….. 1801 .………… 1801 …… North Carolina
Francis Brown
…………………1820-1825 ………1810-1820 ……… unk ………… unk …… unk
David B. Brown
…………………1825-1830 ………1820-1825 ………1823 …………1823 …… Alabama
Unk male
…………………1820-1825 -- could be a relative?
Unk male
…………………1825-1830 -- could be a relative?
Lindy Brown/a.k.a. Malinda Johnson
…………………1825-1830 ………1825-1830 ………1825 …………1826 ……Alabama
Elizabeth Brown
……………………………….........................................1834 ………… unk ……Alabama
Orlena Brown
………………………………...........1830-1835 ………1835 …………1835 .……Alabama
Alfred Brown
……………………………….........................................1835-1840 ……1837 ……Alabama
Nancy Brown
……………………………….........................................1840 …………1837 …….Alabama
Martha Brown
……………………………….........................................1842 …………1844 ……Alabama
Sintha/Cynthia Brown
………………………………..........................................1846 ……………………Alabama
Nancy Brown
………………………………..........................................1845 …………1845 ……Al/Ms
Levi Brown/Johnson
………………………………..........................................1847 …………1847 …….Al/Ms
David Brown/Johnson
………………………………..........................................1850 …………1850 …….Al/Ms
Thomas Johnson ……………………………….......................................1860 ……Arkansas

Dates are just too close to be random -- it IS the same family from 1830 through 1860.


I wrote this up quickly and hope there is no duplication of material.

Although my ancestors left North Central Alabama more than 150 years ago, it has been an interesting search, to discover that from about 1818 to 1850 or so we were there and we didn‘t leave until a few years after “our” original John Brown passed on. However, we pioneered your county. We haven’t found a couple of names of our Brown’s, so perhaps they remained in that region of the country. I so wish more records existed, but I suspect that they don’t. We have NO ties that I know of to that old grave of John Brown at Arley, although I once suspected that we did. It says his father was Hugh Brown, and the other family of Brown’s found down there do have the name “Hugh” in their genealogy. We don’t.

A few years back I made a trip back East to visit Lawrence, Winston, and Walker Counties in Alabama. I was surprised to see that there were family stories that many Cherokee families had moved to that area about the same time as mine, about 1818. I was more surprised to see that there was a John Brown in that region that was said to have been Cherokee. But I was a little depressed to see that it wasn’t “my” John Brown, but that it was another John Brown, born about the same time as mine, and dying about the same time as mine. The other John Brown, husband of Hannah Rice, didn’t show up in that area until I don’t know, maybe the 1830s or 40s? Yall know about them much more than I do. Are my Brown’s related to yall‘s? I don’t know.

I have read in the “Reservation Rolls” of three Cherokee John Brown’s, one it said was a white man who married a Cherokee and the other was son of Richard. Another was a John Brown Sr who was denied a 640 acre reservation because he had already accepted land in Arkansas. The son of Richard appears to have lived near Chattanooga, and traveled back and forth to Oklahoma, even signing one of the Old Settler treaties of the Arkansas Cherokee, even though he probably never lived in Arkansas. Since there were several men named “John Brown” who were Cherokee it is sometimes hard to distinguish one from another.

So who are these two “John Brown’s” of Lawrence/Winston/Walker Counties? I feel sort of guilty claiming one of the Cherokee John Brown’s is mine since it is something I only suspect, but wish I could prove. So all I can say is I just don’t know. Maybe we figure in the mix, “somewhere” ???

I haven’t figured it out. I am encouraged because recently we made progress on our Gist/uess/t surname -- which we ALSO trace to North Central Alabama -- so maybe we can find out more. But maybe I’m just foolin’ myself and we’ve found all there is. Again, I just don’t know . . .