The bogus Moytoy tree

Started by Erica Howton on Sunday, April 1, 2018
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4/1/2018 at 12:33 PM

Kathryn Forbes when you have a chance, would you be able to explain the origin / evolution of the elaborate Moytoy tree (to four generations) ?

Nothing else you've mentioned shocked me: for example the Thomas Passmore Carpenter tree always looked dicey.

But this shocked me. How could such a plausible seeming and detailed tree become so widespread, so accepted, and apparently so quickly?

4/1/2018 at 1:13 PM

Several reasons including the fact that it looks professional, the 1800-forward information is generally accurate and documented, and people want to believe that their families go back to some famous person. Most people don’t seem to want to do actual research, they want a nice neat package handed to them. They know next to nothing about Cherokee history, just a family story about some distant grandmother. Hicks’ tree isn’t really any different from all the trees that claim to take people back to some King or Queen in Europe. The more recent parts are generally accurate, so it’s easy to assume that the entire tree is.

4/1/2018 at 1:22 PM

Hicks being Jim Hicks, who had put up a detailed Family Tree Maker study on the Internet? And he has good credentials and citations, and his tree work after 1800 is fine?

4/1/2018 at 1:25 PM looks like it was cleaned up. however looks like it needs work?

4/1/2018 at 1:26 PM

"Moytoy's name comes from the Tsalagi A-Ma-Do-Ya (or Amatoya), "Rainmaker." The name is a Cherokee family name which became a title after being passed down through several generations. All seven of the Cherokee chief delegates to King George II in 1730 were members of the Moytoy Family.[citation needed]"

4/1/2018 at 2:36 PM

That is simply not true. The men who went to England came from several different towns and none of the accounts written at the time by those who were actually there make any suggestion that the men were related by blood or were even from the same clan. The Cherokee were matrilineal. There was no such thing as a ‘family’ name until whites began intermarrying and some of the mixed-blood children were referred to by the father’s name. It’s quite possible that ‘Moytoy’, whatever the word actually was in Cherokee, was a title and not a name.

4/1/2018 at 2:46 PM

The Moytoy of Settico article in Wikitree is largely incorrect. He was a minor chief, leading war parties against the French and others during the French and Indian war. He would probably be unknown had there not been a well-documented incident in Virginia regarding horses which resulted in the death of nineteen Cherokee and retaliatory raids agaist settlers in North Carolina.

4/1/2018 at 2:55 PM

Much of Jim Hicks ‘book’ of Cherokee Lineages is accurate. Where he lists documentation it is reliable, but he also included (and sometimes noted) theories and speculation and his listings for many pre-1800 people also include information he found on the Internet. There is a lot of useful information, including census references and Dawes and Miller application numbers of related persons.

4/1/2018 at 7:20 PM

So in other words, if we went to look for “Moytoy Family Trees” constructed before say the 1980s, we wouldn’t find any such thing ? We’re really looking at a “born on the internet” phenomenon?

4/1/2018 at 7:40 PM

That’s right. There are only mentions of individuals in historical records of the 18th century, with a few rare remarks that person X was the son or nephew of person Y, or that a man’s wife (unnamed) was present at an event. The missionaries, who arrived about 1800, were the first to record information about families and family relationships.

4/1/2018 at 8:18 PM

And we can’t attribute this to Pedigree Submissions to the LDS the way we can other bogus “upper” trees.


4/1/2018 at 9:11 PM

I agree with Erica that this particular mythical (fake) family tree--just the vastness and pervasiveness of it--has been a masterful creation that has arisen in the internet era. Kathryn, we are so indebted to you for sharing your expertise with us as a researcher and historian with tribal connections and respected credentials. We have desperately been needing someone to help clarify what was true and what was not--it's very hard, even for very smart people and good researchers--to cull through all these layers of truths, half-truths, and totally fabricated "facts."

Is there a reason one of the Cherokee tribes doesn't just publish its own approved genealogy of the Cherokee families who are tribal members? It would seem that both the Eastern Band and the Cherokee Nation would have a master tree they would use to check enrollment application claims, etc. What is the ultimate master source they use?

4/2/2018 at 4:59 AM

The three Cherokke tribes all have base rolls and citizenship rolls, all created in the 20th century. When the base rolls were created people had to prove back to only the 1835 or one of the 1850-ish Cherokee censuses. People who are now trying to claim Cherokee descent are almost always people who are not eligible for citizenship. They claim descent from someone who left the tribe in the 19th century (or sometimes the 18th). In 1851 there were only about 500 Cherokee east of the Mississippi who were not part of the Eastern Band. They cannot possibly be the ancestors of all of the people who think they are of Cherokee descent. Beyween the 1850-51 Siler and Chapman Rolls and the information on the 1907 Eastern Cherokee applications we can almost always find that Cherokee ancestor if he or she existed.

4/3/2018 at 3:33 PM

I think this is interesting. I have tagged Pasmere and Moytoy and Chief Mohawk. Can you tell me anything about Mohawk?

4/3/2018 at 4:23 PM

I’m sorry, I don’t know about the Mohawk.

4/3/2018 at 5:21 PM

Thanks, @Kathryn. Which are the most legitimate rolls used by the tribes for enrollment verification?

4/3/2018 at 5:59 PM

The base roll for Cherokee Nation is the Dawes Roll, for the Eastern Band it’s the Baker Roll. The United Keetoowah Band also uses the Dawes and has a minimum blood quantum. Eastern Band has a minimum blood quantum and other limitations. The Dawes only includes people who lived in on Cherokee lands in Indian Territory, the Baker only people who lived on tribal lands in North Carolina.

4/3/2018 at 6:28 PM

The Dawes and Baker both required that people be on other earlier rolls.

Private User
4/3/2018 at 7:57 PM

Hello Kathryn and all on this thread,

I have found that some people don't like to share their family tree information if they are Native American, even if they have family listed on the various rolls. At Least, this is what I have seen with Chickasaw and Choctaw. I can't speak for the Cherokee in this regard. Is this true with Cherokee? I have heard that the Cherokee is very well documented. I don't belive that if they are only documented after 1800's.
Also, the degree if Indian blood was not always indicated to the full amount for mixed bloods.
My family is supposed to have Cherokee on one of my Bradley branches but I cannot seem to find it.
What about the many mixed bloods who claimed white on census records? Is their Native blood just lost and disregarded even if they clearly connect to Native families?
Is there any consideration that some family lore is actually true and families didn't enroll or were rejected because they didn't live with the tribes and lived as whites too long or mixed in with the whites? I am asking this because I know of a few instances where some did not remove and had to remain living as white and were afraid to tell they were Native American. There were instances where people claimed less blood quantum amounts. I am certainly no expert but I have been very interested in connecting my family and branches and have found much Native American tribe connection.
I am fortunate to be able to prove my Chickasaw and Choctaw as my family is listed on the Dawes. There was quite a bit of politics within these nations with the fullbloods and the mixed bloods. I wonder if that happened with the Cherokee? I would not know where to start with my family claim of Cherokee.

Anyway, I am also interested if you all are planning on snipping the Adair Cherokee connection of which I recently found a Cherokee claim. My Adair ancestors were denied Cherokee enrollment due to living with and mixing with whites for too long. This was before the rolls and their descendants tried to make a claim.

I am curious to know how the Amoytoy connections started if they are bogus? I will be following this discussion and all those related.

Thank you for taking the time to read and keep these trees publicly posted as they are altered.


4/4/2018 at 5:27 AM

Cherokee people are very happy to share their genealogy. What we don't like are people who claim Cherokee ancestry without documentation. There are Cherokee citizens, members of one of the three Cherokee tribes, and there are Cherokee descendants, ineligible for tribal membership, but with ancestors who were Cherokee. Whenever we meet a new Cherokee person almost the first question is "Who are your family?" because we are so interrelated. Cherokee people never lived in a vacuum. Even if some individuals left the tribe or refused to sign up on the Dawes, other members of their family did enroll so we know who they are. The Dawes Commission attempted to track down every single Cherokee person on the 1896 Cherokee census for the Dawes. Those who hadn't enrolled were often signed up by other family members. The few who didn't enroll can still be found on that 1896 census and other records, so again, we know who they are. The "Too Lates", Cherokee who moved to Indian Territory too late to be included on the Dawes still filled out applications and are listed on the 1900 U.S. census in Indian Territory, so we know who they are. There are similar cases with the Eastern Band; there were Cherokee descendants who weren't eligible for citizenship, but we know who they are from their applications and the applications of family members who were enrolled.

Most of the 19th century rolls that included Cherokee east of the Mississippi involved money so instead of hiding, people were eager to sign up. Yes, the Cherokee outside of North Carolina who chose to give up their Cherokee citizenship and remain in the East usually appear on the U.S. Census as white, but they still can be found on the Siler/Chapman and Hester Rolls. The Federal government (and people's neighbors) didn't forget who was Indian and they continued to push them to move west. The Feds continued to pay transportation and subsistence for families who moved through the 1880's. The South was a pretty racist place, and after the Civil War many Cherokee who had initially stayed behind went west and regained their citizenship. There are thousands of pages of Cherokee records of those citizenship cases; again, we have family trees, lists of parents, siblings, children, and other relatives whether the person was approved or not.

The Eastern Cherokee (Guion Miller) roll is the best source for information on unaffiliated Cherokee descendants. Tens of thousands of people who claimed a Cherokee ancestor applied and Miller followed every claim. If he couldn't find a Cherokee ancestor, then the odds are about a million to one there isn't one.

Lots of people whose ancestors never lived in the Cherokee Nation claim to be Cherokee. The Cherokee claimed a large territory, but their homes were all in a relatively small area on the southwest side of the Great Smokies along the Tennessee Rivers, and in northwest Georgia, never in Virginia/West Virginia, Kentucky, or east of the mountains in North Carolina. The Internet trees claiming Cherokee ancestry for Phoebe Crews are made up. She and her family lived in Person County, North Carolina, never in the Cherokee Nation. She may have had a Native ancestor, but there is no documentation which even suggests that is correct, and if she did, it was from a tribe in the Person County area, not Cherokee.

For a time, the state of North Carolina claimed that the only remaining Indians in that state were Cherokee and they listed the Lumbee as Cherokee. That does cause confusion for folks tracking their North Carolina Native ancestors, but the Lumbee also have good records going back before the Civil War.

Are there people whose ancestors married a Native person back in the 16- or 1700's whose identity has been lost? I'm sure there are, but there is no way to know who that ancestor was or to claim them as a member of any existing tribe. When it comes to being Native American, it's not who you claim, it's who claims you.

Private User
4/4/2018 at 5:54 AM

Thank you Kathryn.

(No Name)
4/4/2018 at 7:32 AM

Your posts are so thoughtful and informative. Thank-you for teaching us.Kathryn Forbes

4/5/2018 at 9:33 AM

Re: Are there people whose ancestors married a Native person back in the 16- or 1700's whose identity has been lost? I'm sure there are, but there is no way to know who that ancestor was or to claim them as a member of any existing tribe. ...

Were there tribes we may never have heard of now, or are the tribes in North Carolina known?

4/5/2018 at 9:57 AM

There were probavly many small tribes that simply vanished. The Lumbee are probably remnants of more than one tribe, they maintained as an Indian community, but lost their language(s) and much of their culture in the process. The Tuscarora were mostly absorbed into other tribes or moved North, the Catawba ended up in South Carolina. A few groups have state recognition - the Coharie, Waccamaw, Haliwa-Saponi, another Saponi group in Person County, the Ocaneechie. State recognized groups can range from well-documented descendants of a known tribe to groups of undocumened people who think they have a Native ancestor.

4/5/2018 at 10:31 AM

I'm thinking about how to formulate search strategies.

If you'll bear with me a minute, these are thoughts from my own tree.

- like all good southern families, we supposedly have a Cherokee maiden in our ancestry.

- I have not yet been able to pinpoint which family name(s) carried the rumor

- there is a wink of DNA test evidence, .01% depending on tool, could be "noise". Puts it maybe 7th generation ?

- geographic areas were North Carolina & Tennessee

- we blew up my Abigail Roark theory for the rumor, which looks tracked to a similar name "grand daughter" rejected claim on the Cherokee Rolls. I'm happy about figuring that out, and it affects a fair amount of people.

I think I've concluded that "rejected" applications might be really useful.

4/5/2018 at 11:30 AM

So on Gedmatch my mother's DNA shows 1.45% Amerindian, and if my 6th great grandmother Nancy Foreman (Hop-Moytoy) makes the cut and survives this tree trimming session, what you are saying about your 7th generation sounds about right based on dilution of each generation. My dad shows .63% Amerindian on Gedmatch. Don't know where that comes in. This is Nancy's link:

Nancy Hop

4/5/2018 at 11:50 AM

(No Name) "Letty" existed, she's not a fictional person. It is her ancestry that is looking disproved. So "she" wouldn't be marked fictional, and we've used the names we know her by. But as with any person given mistaken parents in Geni, we disconnect those parents and probably add her to the "spurious pedigrees" project to alert more researchers not to go down a disproven road.

Actual fictional persons would be labeled fictional such as the bogus Moytoys.

4/5/2018 at 11:57 AM

(No Name)

Re Why would a large group of people who claim to be the descendants of "Letty" hold on to false stories for so many generations?

I have similar questions so started a discussion here
Origins of "cherokee in the family" stories

4/5/2018 at 12:02 PM

Regarding Jamey's points, and Erica's questions, I think we need to remember that the whole issue of official tribal enrollment and membership and "policing" the boundaries in some official manner was not necessary until the bureaucratization of tribal life imposed by the U.S. government. Tribes all over the world have maintained their genealogies and kinship structures in traditional forms from time immemorial, but the legal requirements to codify and maintain official rolls and therefore include some while excluding others is a direct result of the colonization process and its administrative structures. As a result of the history of that process of imposing these legal requirements over the past nearly two centuries, the descendants of tribal ancestors have not always been officially recognized, either by the tribal government (also a product of colonization) or by the state or federal government. A great deal of politics is and has been involved in all of these determinations. As settlers came into this country and variably killed and/or intermarried with native peoples, and as tribes relocated by force or by being pushed toward the frontiers by European settlement, the tribal communities and structures changed. As Kathryn mentions, many smaller tribes got swallowed up in those processes. Some joined forces with neighboring small tribes and formed new formations (like the Lumbee, which seems to have been a conglomeration of the remains of several earlier tribes in eastern NC), while some lost their communities and became more integrated into the dominant lifestyles and lost a tribal identity.

So, yes, there are many people today who do, in fact, likely have ancestors who were native people, but as such they are not able to find "official" proof or recognition of that other than the DNA results. They are not eligible for tribal membership, if the tribe, in fact, still exists. And I suspect that many of these people claim their ancestor or ancestress was Cherokee because that is one of the largest and best-known tribes in the Southeast, when in fact that ancestor may have been from one of many of those small tribes that is no longer thriving or even in existence any more.

4/5/2018 at 12:07 PM

Re: what happened to the real "white" woman who mothered them all?

Sadly, British North American colonial genealogy was (what we'd call now) sexist.

In the colonies of New France, New Sweden, New Netherland, New Spain, consistent with their European "mother" countries, when we have surviving records, maiden names are clear, not only in marriage records but in the baptismal records of their children.

Not so in British North America. I don't think I've see a birth record before 1776 that names the mother beyond her first name.

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