Family Skeletons

The purpose of this blog is quite simple. I hope that by sharing stories and personal essays about my family –and perhaps yours if you care to participate- we can all learn more about where we came from. By doing that, maybe we handle our present day problems in a manner that will enable us to become better people.

Monday, March 26, 2007

She Was Not An Indian Princess

The second wife of my maternal great-grandfather was a lot of things. Irish, small, petite, two-time widow, probable Madam and bordello operator, boarding house owner and likely murderess. But one thing attributed to her she absolutely was not. An Indian Princess.

If you don’t think genealogy creates ‘history’ cut out of whole cloth, think again. All too often, people don’t like what they discover about their everlovin’ ancestors. After all, their ancestors would never do anything illegal or immoral. All of their ancestors were refined, educated people who they can be proud of. Uh-huh.

The truth is that we all have more than a few skeletons in the closet. In spite of that, we still keep trying to gloss over the rough spots. Even those who have researched their family history for years can be guilty of it.

But back to my great-grandmother. One researcher who has spent years focusing on my family line started making the statement that great-grandmother was a Chickasaw Indian Princess. Despite the fact that there is absolutely no truth to the story, it’s wound up on the internet and has now become set in cement. How you stop it spreading, I don’t have a clue.

The best thing I can do is to provide the truth. To that end, consider the following:

Where the story got started is most likely due to the fact that her first husband was a Chickasaw Indian and the son of the last chief of the Northern Mississippi Chickasaw. Throw in a little bit of romance and the fact that Pocahontas was referred to on occasion as an Indian Princess great-grandmother was an Indian Princess.

While that all sounds glorious, the fact of the matter is that American Indians did not and do not have Princesses. I even asked a full-blood Chickasaw Indian that I had occasion to meet about that. When he quit laughing, he confirmed the statement. Beyond that, my great-grandmother married an Indian. That didn’t make her an Indian any more than it made him a white eyes.

Great-grandmother was a full-blood Irishwoman with a maiden name of McCollum. If that ain’t Irish, I ain’t half Italian! What’s really more interesting than the Indian Princess fantasy is what happened to her first husband. She was only 27 when she married my great-grandfather...and she was already a widow. Since it’s likely that she murdered my great-grandfather (see my post titled Was It Murder?), it makes you wonder if she had anything to do with her first husband’s demise.

So, to cram this entire Indian Princess thing into a nutshell, the following points need to be understood:

* Great-grandmother’s maiden name was McCollum.
* She was Irish.
* She married a Chickasaw Indian
* Her first husband died...or she killed him.
* She married my great-grandfather.
* She probably ran a bordello and was most likely a Madam.
* She probably murdered my great-grandfather.

But there’s one thing about my great-grandmother that is absolutely, positively, irrevocably and demonstrably not true....

She was no Indian Princess.


Anonymous Pilar said...

Well said.

4:06 PM  

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