Thursday, May 26, 2011

Aaron Brock, Sr., "Chief Red Bird" Tsalagi' Ugvwiyuhi Totsu'hwa (ca 1726-1797)


 Red Bird River, S.E. Kentucky, named for Chief Red Bird. The boundary between Clay and Leslie Cos. follows in part the Red Bird River.

Turkey track is the traditional symbol for the Bird clan (Ani-Tsisqua). Turkey is also the symbol of the trickster.
The rock exhibits symbols for all Cherokee clans. Photos courtesy of Tim Brock, May 2005

It has been said that AARON BROCK (Sr.), "Chief Red Bird," was born 8 Dec 1721 in VA, but no source can be found and it seems to be confused with the month and day his son JESSE BROCK was born. A more accurate birthdate of Aaron's birth is probably abt 1726.

Jesse Brock's said in his Revolutionary Pension affidavit that he was born 8 Dec 1751 in Cumberland Co., VA. Although Cherokee did not keep track of birthdates as Anglos do, Aaron Brock, Sr., Chief Red Bird could have since he was part-white. If it is accurate that Jesse Brock was "about 3/4 Indian," then both his parents were all or part Native American.

The Long Hunters had long hunted and traded with the Cherokee. In many cases they had fathered Cherokee children and been in semi-married relationships with Cherokee women. In these cases, by Cherokee custom, a man who supports his wife and children honorably is inducted into the woman's clan.

European-American hunters on Cherokee land not attached to the clans in this way were in a perilous occupation. That the New River men, many of whom had been Long Hunters and Indian traders, would hold back in the attack on the Cherokee in 1776-1777 is to be expected, considering the way in which the war was conducted and their past ties to the Cherokee. As an example, Capt. Enoch Osborne's brother Ephraim married Mary Brock who is the daughter of Aaron Brock, sometimes called by his Cherokee name Cutsawah or Red Bird (after which a tributary of the Kentucky River is named), and one of the Blevins married a granddaughter of Doublehead, a Cherokee head man.

Long Hunters not allied with the Cherokee would have been regarded by the Cherokee as thieves and would have lost their harvest of furs if caught (one such dispossessed "thief" was the famous Benjamin Cleveland, scourge of the New River Tories). The Revolutionary War was an economic disaster for the long hunts as many of the furs and skins destined for England now had no market.

New River Notes, for the Upper New River Valley of North Carolina and Virginia: A Brief note about the Cherokee war of 1776-1777.

Chief Red Bird (Aaron Sr.) was murdered 10 Feb 1797 in Taluegue, KY. All known records of Chief Red Bird are listed on Jerry Taylor's website on this page.

He was referenced in Louis-Philippe’s Diary of My Travels in America in the following excerpt, around 1799 after the death of Chief Red Bird:

"We must be fair: the whites’ systematic spoilation of the Indians has not even slowed. All the Indians’ neighbors are greedy for their Tennessee territories. The last treaty has aroused serious discontent among the whites, who would like a war with the Indians so a new treaty can strip them of the coveted lands. Four months ago the whites assassinated two Indians (one a chief called Red Bird), hoping the provocation would lead to reprisals and trigger a war. The Indians demanded the surrender of the murderers. This was refused on the pretext that they should not be yielded over to Indian torture, and that according to the treaty they must be judged by American law. The whites promised to conduct an investigation and have the murders punished, but it would seem that nothing of the sort was done. I heard one of the assassins identified, so it would not be hard to find them. In the meantime, as nothing was done, the Cherokees assassinated four whites, and as nothing was said, all has been calm since."
Castillo de San Marcos built 1672 at St. Augustine is today a National Monument. Its website lists Minorcans as one of the ethic groups whose culture impacted the Fort.

After his death in 1797, his apparent son Chief Red Bird "Tsisquaya" Aaron Brock signed two treaties, first in 1805 he signed the Treaty of Tellico as "Tochuwar" with an X; and second on 6 Jan 1806, he signed the Treaty of Washington, DC, as Redbird (with an X) between the United States and the Cherokee nation, relinquishing the lands north of the Tennessee River. The treaty was also signed by John McLemore (aka John "Eukulacau"), son of Burrell McLemore -- who is said to have raised Chief Redbird (I)'s children Jesse and Mahala Brock -- the nephew of John McLemore who is said to have raised Chief Redbird's other children James, Mary, and John Brock.

In 1806 Red Bird was one of the young Cherokee chiefs who made a speech at Nine Towns:

The young Chiefs try to dispel rumors of the old Chiefs selling land and say they should be praised for bringing peace to the Nation. They also chose a new "Beloved Man" to replace the one who died.
The Talk to our own people this meeting ~ We are met here nine Towns of us on the river, Though you are all sensible of it & we would wish for you all to hear us Talk in this country what is concluded on at this meeting ~ we are met together at this place. we the younger Chiefs & we consider our old head men though we see but two or three of them now left on this quarter of our Nation & we think a great deal of them we have lost-our old head men who did rule the Nation & they were the people that made peace for us all & it is not right that the oldest head men should be turned of a side when the life is still in them when Death calls them away then we cant help it. We ought all to be sensible of this, that these old Chiefs were the means of our having peace with all the red people as will [added: as] the whites, & now turn them of it is wrong & we are the younger people to stand before them it does not look right & we must know that the old Chiefs ought to be by consulting their young Chiefs We the Cherokees ought all to use our old head men good for they were the men at first peace us all.
There is a story raised about them that they have sold land ~ this thing cannot be done without the consent of our nation, and when land is sold we all know of it & also when land is sold by any of the red people round us we all know & hear it ~ and we may expect it will be the case that land will be sold by our neighbours ~ the Chickasaws we have no reason to disbelieve it, these are the people that our people ought to talk to about selling land ~ & it would look better that those men who talks about our selling land, they ought to stop the Chickasaws from selling our land & not blame us ~
We remember very well that some time ago, that it was agreed on that this part of the nation should rule as far as Connasaga & now we have told you there are nine Towns of us met here together & consider that it is not right for some of you to come & bring your guns & point then to us. If we have done a fault you ought to send word to us & let us make everything straight ~
If any of you does a fault we do not go there & shoot at your houses & point guns to none of your people ~ as we before mentioned the decision to [us] far as Connasauga the head men done this in order that the people should get there presents equally & also if any should steal or do any thing that was bad the parties should punish the offender or transgressor by themselves ~
& we also inform you that we expect that Colo. [Colonel] Meigs thought proper that them should be one to interpret & to write & read letters for us on this part of the nation ~ John Thompson on this part & Charles Hicks on your part for when a letter comes to us we cannot do without one as Charles Hicks lives so far that he cannot be every where.
It was not expected that our Friend Hicks should be turned of but these two should talk for us all we expected that we should see some of you, but we expect that something has prevented your not coming, we now inform you the reason that we called a meeting at this place which was that we might appoint another Beloved man at this town in place of the one that died this winter ~ & we expect that you will do the same in your part of the nation the same as we have done we must choose good men for our beloved men ~
Friend we are met at this Town or place nine Towns & have heard all the talks & am Glad to hear the good talks we hope the Great spirit will conduct you all & put your minds together as one you have been talking three days & we hope our friend will consider well & take every thing into consideration, & for all our young Chief to be of one way of thinking & the older ones ought to be of one do the same. This is a talk from the new beloved man that is here appointed now called the Standing formerly called Jno [John] Thompson.
Signators: Double Head, The Glass, Dick Justice, Town Bull, Turtle at home, Parch Flour, Red Bird & yechalle of wills Town
address of the C[herokee] Chiefs to their Nation in the different parts.

It was 11 Sep 1811 that he and Willie were murdered by a Livingston and another man, and his body thrown into a hole of water nearby called "Willie's Hole," from which John Gilbert and others took him and buried him.

  "Aaron was preparing for trapping season, and made a trip to Madison Co., KY, for supplies. It is verified Aaron was in Madison Co. visiting his daughter Catherine in late August 1811 from the McLemore family archives. He departed Madison Co. sometime around the first of September for Pulaski Co., KY, where he lived in a small one-room cabin located on property belonging to George White. George had a huge family, some people say possibly seventeen children. Many of them already had married and some lived nearby, and in 1810 George still had six children living with him in the household.

"George White had a son named Lambert who was born about the same time the family moved to Kentucky from Louisa Co., VA, ca 1785. Lambert often lived with Aaron, and helped him take care of furs. In the summer, Aaron would help George with farm work for allowing him to live on his land.

"Lambert was with Aaron when he visited Madison Co. On the way home two brothers, Isaac and Jacob Gregory attacked, and left them for dead after scalping Aaron. The thieves stole everything Aaron possessed.

"Somehow Aaron and Lambert made it back to Madison Co. where some passersby loaded them in a wagon and took them to the home of Jacob White, a family relative of George White, and a certified Medical Doctor. That was on September 3, 1811, and on September 11, 1811 Aaron died. He was buried in the White family cemetery the same day. The Cemetery is located at Foxtown, Madison Co., KY.

"That evening eight men left Madison Co. with one idea in mind, to hunt down and hang Jacob and Isaac Gregory. Before departure, a letter was written to the Attorney General of Kentucky James Blair, and Governor Charles Scott, informing them of the action being taken, and it was signed by eight men. On September 16, 1811, they wrote another letter to Governor Scott and Attorney General James Blair, which informed them of the precise location where Isaac and Jacob Gregory were hung in a tree. The purpose of the letter was to allow relatives to retrieve the bodies and bury them if their families so wanted. Again eight men signed the letter.

"The men retrieved Aaron's property, and delivered it to his daughter Catherine. Lambert White survived the ordeal and walked with a slight limp for the remainder of his life. He died sometime after 1840 in Pulaski Co., KY, when he was listed on that US Census of 1840 for Pulaski Co. as living alone and being between 50-60 years of age. His full name was Lambert Jacob White, and they called him Jake."

Red Bird was buried in a cave, where Sequoyah visited and engraved a stone marker about 1818.

Nearly 200 years of oral tradition indicates Aaron Brock was the English name of Cherokee treaty-signer Chief Red Bird (Cherokee name Tsalagi' Ugvwiyuhi Totsu'hwa) for whom the Red Bird River was named. Part Cherokee, his parents' names cannot be proven, but hereditary chiefs signed treaties.

One can easily follow the genealogy of treaty signers, descending from Amatoy Moytoy, to Moytoy, to Willenawah (Great Eagle), to Sister of Doublehead (Red Paint Clan), to Red Bird; and Wurteh Watts to Sequoyah. Treaty writers went out of their way to track down the most influential Cherokee leaders and kin of those who had signed previous treaties.

Dr. Kenneth B. Tankersley was shown as a boy the burial place of Aaron Brock - Chief Red Bird by his great-grandmother Elizabeth Saylor Tankersley, who was shown by her grandmother Elizabeth Brock Saylor, the granddaughter of Jesse Brock's son James C., as a place to be cared for by their family, which has looked after his grave since the murder.

Much Cherokee genealogy has been lost, but the following sources are recommended by anthropologist Dr. Kenneth B. Tankersley as the absolute best books on Cherokee kinship:

 Myths of the Cherokee
by James Mooney (Paperback)

James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees: Containing the Full Texts of Myths of the Cherokee (1900 And the Sacred Formula), by James Mooney, George Ellison (Introduction) (Paperback - August 1992)

Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees
by James Mooney (Paperback - December 1982)

History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore
by Emmet Starr (Hardcover - December 1921)

In a week spent in 2002 at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, this writer examined every book of Brock family history on descendants of Aaron or Jesse Brock and his sister Mahala Susanna Brock Callahan:

1. Strong Family, by Mrs. J. C. Hurst, Lexington, KY, 1958. She wrote, "The Strong family of Breathitt and Owsley Cos., KY, was established by William, who was born about the year 1768 in VA and died about the year 1848. He was married about the year 1790 to Jennie Callahan (commonly called Jane), who was born about the year 1779 and died about the year 1815. She was a daughter of Edward and Mahalah Brock Callahan. Mahalah was a daughter of AARON BROCK and a sister of JESSE BROCK, who lived in Harlan County. The Brocks were part Indian."

2. Davi(d)son: The First Ten, the Second Ten, and Many Allied Families, by Charlotte Davison, Robbie Jean Davison; assisted by Mary Ruth Moffitt Stevens; published Braddyville, IA, by Violet Pence Apple, 1985; pp. 4-5.

3. The Howards of Southeastern Kentucky, by Frances Yeager Dunham, University of West Florida, published by Kathleen White, Panama City, FL (1979, reprinted 1985), Chapter 1, p. 3 excerpt reads, "Jesse Brock may have been a son of Adron Brock, b 1721. Mahala Brock, who married Edward (Ned) Callahan, may have been Jesse's sister (Davidson, 1961. In his RW application in 1833, Jesse described his moves after the war as: Guilford Co, NC; Franklin Co, VA; Gilford Co., NC; Russell Co., Va, 1794-98; Knox (now Harlan) Co., KY, 1799. He was on the tax rolls of Russell Co., VA, from 1795-98. A Jesse Brock with children whose ages matched those of Harlan Co. Jesse was in Duplin Co., NC, in censuses of 1786, 1790, and 1800."

   4. Early families of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky and their descendants, by William Kozee, mentions Adron Brock (which is probably a misreading of handwritten "Aaron").

5. The Brocks: Ephraim Brock and Aggie Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia: Their Ancestors and Descendants, by Luther F. Addington, was published in Wise, VA, by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia (no publication or copyright date, but the author was born 1899). Does not mention the name of Jesse's father or grandfather, which indicates the compilers didn't know.

Some Internet genealogy data gave the name of Aaron's father as Reuben Brock ("British soldier b. 1680"), but there is no evidence to support that claim, nor that such a Reuben existed in that time period. Apparently it was a theory only of a researcher, repeated as fact by others.

The name Reuben Brock is not associated with Aaron and Jesse's family, but with the Swiss/German Brack/Brocks Rudolph Heinrich Brack/Brock and John Michael Brack/Brock who immigrated to PA in 1733 and then to Orange/Augusta Co., VA, by 1740. Rudolph had at least four grandsons or great-grandsons named Reuben; two served in the Revolution. They were born 100+ years too late to be Aaron Brock Chief Red Bird's father.

Aaron's son Jesse Brock was said in testimony by his grandson Elijah (son of Amon) to be "about 3/4 Indian." This suggests that Jesse was the grand- or great-grand-, or gr-great-grandson (?) of a European immigrant. A Brock DNA Project to determine the Y-chromosome of Aaron Brock patrilineal descendants (male Brocks, father to son to son etc.) has so far tested twelve descendants of Jesse Brocks's sons (Amon, James, Jesse Jr., and Aaron) ~ whose DNA matches descendants of James Brock (1759-1831 Cumberland Co., KY), Elder George Brock (1809-1879 Laurel Co., KY), and others descending from George Brock (ca 1680-1746 Albemarle Co., VA).

Their haplogroup is J-12f2.1+, Mediterranean-Middle East-Ashkenazi Jewish (Jews who went to Northern Europe, primarily to England).

Dr. Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA wrote about our Brock family's DNA in June 2007, "I have looked into a Jewish database that we have and this line IS found as a 12/12 match with 10 people in the database of Jews… One from Turkey (likely Spanish origins) one from Iran, and many from the Island of Majorca from a group of people who where forced to convert to Christianity called the Cheuta’s. I do not believe that these Brocks are descended from a Native American male, rather from a Jewish colonizer of Spanish descent."

Another man whose Y-chromosome DNA was tested descends from a George Brock who lived in the same area as Jesse, was about the same age, and had land dealings with him. Though believed by his descendants to be Jesse's son, George shows haplogroup R1B ~ the most common European admixture, and no similarity to Jesse's documented sons' haplogroup J1, so they shared no common patrilineal ancestor with him. On another type test ~ DNA Print ~ George's descendants and other Brocks tested show a percentage of Native American, unlike Y-chromosome testing, which shows only the patrilineal ancestor's haplogroup.

Virginia colonists from England received land patents of 50 acres per man, plus 50 acres for persons they transported to Virginia. Bond servants received 50 acres when their 2-7 years of servitude were complete. All patents were preserved and are at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, and none exists for Reuben Brock. Abstracts were published by Nell M. Nugent in several volumes, Cavaliers & Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents, beginning with Vol. I, 1623-1666, Richmond, VA, 1963. Patent images are available on-line on the LVA website.

All able-bodied males were required to serve militia duty. All extant county militia lists were published by Lloyd D. Bockstruck, Virginia's Colonial Soldiers, Baltimore, MD, 1988.


It is clear from the Brock DNA Project Y-chromosome test results that, if Jesse Brock was the son of Aaron Brock/aka Chief Red Bird, his patrilineal ancestor was Jewish, probably a trader among the Indians who married a Cherokee woman and became, or his son became, a chief. At the time Jesse was born 1751 in Cumberland Co., VA, as was his sister Mahala Susannah Brock in 1754, the ONLY BROCK OF RECORD IN CUMBERLAND CO. WAS A GEORGE BROCK, as follows (this is not the George mentioned above):

Abstracts of the Cumberland County, Virginia, Court Order Books from June 1749 to May 1756, by Sheila Fretwell.  George Brock was mentioned on pp. 48, 61, 74, 80, 118, and 205 of the publication.

p. 48 (p. 179 of Order Book, this seems to be Part I), 26 Nov 1750, William Gray, Gentl., plt. against George Brock, Deft.} In debt. This day came Robert Kent, Benjamin Bryan & William Mills and entered themselves Bail for the Deft. Imparlance granted.

p. 61 (p. 230 of Order Book), 31 Jan 1750/1, William Gray, Gentl., plt., against George Brock, Deft.} In Debt. Continued).

p. 74 (p. 289 of Order Book), 27 May 1751, same as above

p. 80 (p. 307 of Order Book), date on previous p. but it's between 27 May and 26 Aug 1751): William Gray, Gentl., plt. against George Brock, Deft. } his costs, to be discharged by the paiment of six pounds ten shillings & Six pence with Interest.

p. 118 (p. 89 of next order book), 30 May 1753: John Ford, Extor &c of Hezekiah Ford, decd, against Josiah Burton, George Brock & Henry Hatcher for a Debt. Dismis'd.

p. 205 (p. 384 of Part IIa of Order Book), 22 Mar 1756): On the Petition and Summons brought b John Ford, Executor &c of Hezekiah Ford, Decd., Pltf. against Josiah Burton, George Brock and Henry Hatcher, Defts. for three pounds two shillings and nine pence said to be due to the said Hezekiah in his Life time by accounty. The Petition as to Hatcher [is] dismis'd, and as to the Defts. Burton and Brock, the Petition abates, the sherif having made return that they are no inhabitants of this County.

On the motion of Henry Farler, a Witness for John Ford, Exor &c of Hezekiah Ford against Josiah Burton, George Brock and Henry Hatcher. It is ordered that the said John pay him 79 pounds of tobacco for one days attendance and for once coming and returning eighteen miles.

Since p. 205 says George Brock no longer lived in the county, what other county formed about 1755/56? Bedford Co.? Or, did he move to Onslow Co. NC? It was, I think, George Brock, Sr., son of Joshua Brock and Sarah ____ who was b. 1726 in St. Paul's Par., New Kent Co., then was in Cumberland Co., Bedford Co., Fluvanna Co., Franklin Co., Powhatan Co., and finally Henry Co. where he died 1834.

 The DNA of Jesse Brock's sons' descendants matches that of James Brock of TN who d. Cumberland Co., KY (believed to be Jesse's brother), Elder George Brock of Laurel Co., KY, and other members of a large family from the same area of VA, some of whom moved to Grainger Co., TN.

It is reasonable to think that Aaron Brock/Chief Red Bird's father (Great Eagle?) preserved an ancient male lineage identified in today's literature as the Cohen gene of Old Testament Jewish priests in the Cherokee hierarchy because:

Bennett Greenspan and the scientists at Family Tree DNA have clarified it as belonging to haplotype J12f2.1+, an ancient form of the Cohen haplotype. The + allows for one-step mutations of the gene over time.

Chief Red Bird's Y chromosome is not exactly matched by males living in Europe or descended from European or Old World emigrants, only by other Cherokee descendants.

Chief Red Bird's father, from whom he received the haplotype, was a tribally identified Cherokee born about 1700 (since Red Bird himself was born about 1721 and killed in 1796). That time frame precedes the period of English/French/Spanish/Portuguese fathering of children by Cherokee women. Chief Red Bird's mother was unquestionably Cherokee. She was reportedly a member of the Paint Clan.

The first European to marry a Cherokee woman was Cornelius Doughtery, an Indian trader born about 1668, who married Ahneewakee, a daughter of Chief Motoy II, about 1745.

The marriage and naming patterns with Cornell, Sizemore and other Jewish Cherokee or Melungeon families are consistent.

We can trace the line father-to-son in historical and genealogical records back to Motoy I, born about 1640, who married Quatsi (Patsy) of Tellico, a full-blood Cherokee of the Wolf Clan. In 1640, the Cherokee had little contact with Europeans. It is virtually impossible that Motoy's father could have been a European. If he had been a European, it is also virtually impossible that he or his male descendants could have achieved the standing of principal chief. His male descendants included Motoy II, Red Bird, Raven of Hiwassee, Tathtowe, Bad Water, Old Hop, Old Tassel, Doublehead, Tuckahoe and other Cherokee chiefs recorded in British and American Indian agency records.

Other scenarios, such as adoption, are possible, as with any interpretation in genetic genealogy research, but none is more likely than the one I've just sketched.

Although most male Cherokee lines were extinguished in warfare following European contact, the survival of the Red Bird or Motoy line in the Brock Y-chromosome is a notable exception. The male story mirrors the mitochondrial lineages in my article, "Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee," and shows that Middle Eastern founder types ruled the Cherokee nation from its inception.

That the Motoy line is demonstrably from the ancient Middle East (and likely Jewish) is consistent with Cherokee origin stories, as summarized in my book Old Souls in a New World: Greeks, Jews and Egyptians in Native America. The name Motoy (title, actually) means Mariner or Admiral and commemorates the Egyptian expedition of 212 b.c.e.

Donald N. Yates, Jan 2010

See his article, Anamolous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee.

From his Revolutionary Pension application, it's clear that Jesse Brock was a great mover-around and from other records, so was Chief Red Bird's village. Because Jesse said he was b. 1751 in Cumberland Co., VA, it has seemed logical that his siblings were born in the same area. But if his parents moved as often as he did, his siblings could've been born for example in the Carolinas.

I have no idea how to locate or search rabbinical records, but a man whose DNA matches Jesse Brock's sons' descendants, Chevy Marchosky, suggested the Brock immigrant could've been in the Carolinas or Florida. This seems possible, especially because of Melungeon history and its sometimes Spanish or Portuguese origins.

Most old American families think of England as the mother country, and focus on Jamestown as the earliest permanent settlement by English colonists, or even Roanoke, "the lost colony" of 1607.

The earliest European city in America was established by the Spanish at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565 but the area was first visited by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, after sailing with Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. In 1513 Ponce de Leon (of the Fountain of Youth) was the first explorer to set foot in Florida. He landed just south of St. Augustine. Also in 1513, he was the first Spanish explorer to describe the Gulf Stream. It was the first leg of the route home for the great Spanish treasure fleets. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida, today a National Historic Park.

de Leon's explorations northward among the Cherokee (committing some atrocities), lost some of his crew to desertion or romance with Native American women on the expedition.

A few settlements prior to St. Augustine failed, including the Pensacola colony in 1559 and Fort Caroline in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, in 1564. In 1586 St. Augustine was attacked and burned by Sir Francis Drake. St. Augustine's still-impressive 1672 Spanish fort, where the Seminole Indians were incarcerated on their forced march to the Everglades, is open to visitors today.

Castillo de San Marcos built 1672 at St. Augustine is today a National Monument. Its website lists Minorcans as one of the ethic groups whose culture impacted the Fort.

The Tennessee GenWeb site has valuable material on the Cherokee and their many cessions of land from their historical homelands.

In later historic times, starting 1777, the Cherokee primarily inhabited southwest North Carolina, southeast Tennessee, northern Georgia, and northern Alabama. In 1777, the Cherokee gave up all their claims to South Carolina, and withdrew to west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. (See our Cherokee Nation of Indians page and map showing the greatest extent of the pre-1777 Cherokee Nation.)

A few Cherokee started moving west, first to what is now Missouri, where they did not stay long because of a series of earthquakes there (New Madrid Earthquake, Missouri Territory). Most of these moved to what is now Arkansas, or returned east. By 1817, there were about 5,000 Cherokee in what is now Arkansas. The states of Georgia and Tennessee wanted the remainder to leave. There was a treaty ceding lands in Georgia and Tennessee in return for an equal amount of land in Arkansas Territory, the first "Indian Territory.” This became known as the Cherokee Cession of 1817. The land was located between the Arkansas and White Rivers. The cession was extinguished by the U.S. at the time of the New Echota Treaty, 1835, which led directly to removal, “The Trail of Tears.” This is to say, until 1839, most of the remaining Cherokee lived east of the Mississippi. After 1839, most probably lived west of the river.

See list of cessions here.

James Brock, thought to be Jesse's brother, was born 1759 in Surry Co., NC, enlisted 1779 in Halifax Co., NC, and served through 1783. He was in Knox Co., TN, 1789-1800. He lived in Overton Co., TN, when he served 1814-15 in the War of 1812. James and his 2nd wife Mildred Crane moved to Cumberland Co., KY, by 1802, where he wrote his will in Jun 1831 and it was recorded in Sep 1831. It named his wife MILLY Brock, and "equally divided with my children as hereafter directed, ELIZABETH CRAWFORD, JOEL BROCK, G.A. BROCK, POLLY HARRIS, ALLEN BROCK, MALINDA POOL, MATILDA GUTHERY, these being lawful heires."

There is no telling how far back the Jewish (or Melungeon) ancestor lived, or came to America. It could have been hundreds of years. Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, in her book MELUNGEON: THE LAST LOST TRIBE IN AMERICA (2005), wrote, "Not all Jews are Melungeon, but all Melungeons are Jews," and cites numerous landings in the Carolinas and Florida during the 1500s by Spanish and Portuguese Jewish sailors and settlers seeking a new home as refugees from the Inquisition which began in Spain 1492, the year Columbus discovered America. As other English colonists arrived, the earlier Jewish settlers sought isolation in Appalachia.

 One European who married a Cherokee was Christian Gottlieb Priber, who immigrated abt 1735 from Zittau, Germany, went quickly to live with the Cherokee which he saw as an idyllic lifestyle. Leaving a wife and children in Germany who he meant to send for, he instead married a daughter of the great Cherokee Chief Moytoy at Tellico (now in SC). Her name is unknown, but their daughter Creat Priber married Chief Doublehead, who may've been Aaron Brock/Red Bird's brother, in the area now Stearns, KY. According to the interview of Felix Begley by Mrs. Annie Walker Burns, Christian Gottlieb Priber and his Moytoy wife had four daughters, names of the other three are not known. It was fairly common in that time and place for siblings to marry siblings.

Native people in the past traveled and made seasonal moves. Robert Benge, for example, ranged in war and peace from Canada to Florida. By the time of Red Bird, people lived in cabins, rode horses, planted crops, and drove wagons. Sequoyah moved back and forth from Georgia to Kentucky, from Washington to Arkansas.

Red Bird's village movement can be tracked by the documents left behind from the white captive, Stephan Tuders, born in Virginia in 1770. Found in Red Bird's village in then Virginia, present day Clay County, Kentucky, in 1772. Tuders moved with the village to North and South Carolina in 1778. In 1793, he married a Chicamaugan woman from the village in South Carolina. In 1795 his daughter Leathy was born and in 1800 his daughter Polly was born, both in South Carolina. In 1810, he returned with Red Bird's village to Clay County, Kentucky, after the massacre of Yahoo Falls.

Cherokee people who served in the Revolution, as well as African Americans who served, were permitted to be land owners and were encouraged by the newly formed government to acculturate into American society as civilized people.

Gist, father of Sequoyah, led an entire militia of Cherokee during the Revolution. He was brought up for treason and tried by Washington, who found him not guilty and thanked him for rallying the Cherokee for the American cause.

Aaron Brock migrated to Red Bird, Harlan Co., KY, when his son Jesse was granted land for his Revolutionary service. It is said that at first Aaron and his wife lived in a sycamore tree near what is now Red Bird, Kentucky, which is named for him. Sycamore trees were sacred to the Cherokee. It is where the Creator gave the Cherokee people fire. The stump of that sycamore tree is almost within eye sight of Ken Tankersley's family's home at Cranks, Harlan Co., Kentucky. Jesse Brock was the first settler at Wallins Creek in what was then Knox Co. and is now Harlan.

A query dated 1962 in the Kentucky Genealogist (Vol. 4(3): 120) stated, "Aaron Brock born ca 1721, lived in Cumberland Co., VA, 1751, son Jesse settled 1799 in Knox Co., KY (later Harlan Co.). Edward Callahan born 1743 removed 1800 with wife Mahala Brock from Russell Co., VA, to Clay Co., KY . . ." A record from the Clay County Historical Society states, "Some of the Cornetts claim Indian ancestors from Edward Callahan who married Mahala the daughter of Aaron or Adrian Brock, who was a Cherokee, born 1711 died 1811," although those dates are not accurate, and it was whites, not Cherokee who recorded.

1761 was the earliest historical reference to Red Bird River, named for the chief of the nearby village, "The red bird is the cardinal, state bird of Kentucky and six other states. This is not a Native American mission, though it was named, we were told, for Chief Red Bird, a Cherokee."

From Oct 1778-1789 Red Bird lived quietly on The Barrens, TN, until encroachment threatened.

He may have been with the Cherokee who journeyed from Tellico, SC, to Fort Frederica to be with Christian Gottlieb Priber when he was imprisoned by Royal Governor Oglethorpe of Georgia. The Yamacraws lived there for trade and protection at the fort, and wound up living a few miles from Yahoo Falls in what became Kentucky, where Chief Red Bird's people settled and suggests they came together, as suggested by Dr. Ken Tankersley, Sep 2003.

Between 1789 and 1797, Aaron Brock, Sr., Chief Red Bird, and his son Aaron Red Bird lived at Taluegue, KY.

Two known primary references with anti-Indian statements made by descendants of Aaron Brock refer to Robert Benge.
In addition to Benge, most of the Clay County Cherokee families were ultimately related to the likes of Chief Tassel and Doublehead, Colonel Martin, Hanging Maw, Corn Tassel, Fool Warrior, Long Fellow, and Abram brother of Hanging Maw.

Chief Red Bird was mentioned in a letter dated March 5, 1797, by Gov. John Sevier (1796-1801, 1803-1809) to John Watts and other chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, in response to a letter by the Cherokee chiefs regarding earlier communications sent by Sevier, and negated the claims of Watts and others that the Cherokees have not caused damage to the persons or properties of white settlers. Sevier cited instances in which white settlers were killed in retaliation for the murders of Chief Red Bird and his attendant. Sevier criticized the Cherokee Nation for not making an official complaint regarding those murders. Furthermore, he denied Watts' claim that his preceding communications were threatening in nature, as he stated that he was merely hoping to convince the Cherokees of the dangers of going to war. Sevier contended that he wished to establish and promote a peace between the United States and the Cherokee Nation.:

  "Brother. [No. 4 1797 Recorded]
Your letter of the 4th came to hand to day, in which You Say that your people have done no damage on either the property person or property of any [added: the] whites. Man I wish this was the case, and I make no doubt but you think so, but you may be sure, several is killed one in powels [Powell] Valley by a fellow called Dick, [added: can talk some english [English],] who has hunted there and was, and is well known [added: by the people]; can talk some english [English], [added: Letter to the Indian chiefs 1797] I mention this that You may know the person, — there has also been a great Many horses taken from cumberland [Cumberland] and one Man killed And Another Wounded, there And yesterday another Was killed and scaulped [scalped] on little pigion [Little Pigeon] about thirty miles from this place,

"This conduct my brother has a bad appearance and as I told you before will be attended with disagreable events Should your people be so foolish And unwise Not to decline Such practices.

"You mention that I wrote you in a threatning Manner, but my brother if you listen to the Words of my letter, there is no threats [added: in it.], I have only spoken to you the [added: language of] truth, and the fatal consequences, that Must attend your Nation, should you be so imprudent As to again go to War — I dont nor never did Speak to you with a false toungue, nor do I wish your people to be treated ill, but on the contrary that they may live in peace and safety and raise their children in Quietude.

"I know very well, that some of our [added: the white] people are bad men and have been guilty of a horrid Crime in killing the red bird [Red Bird] and Will, and I expect that when ever they can be taken they will [added: shall] suffer for it, one of them has run away and the other as yet is not taken; as I told you in my last I tell you in this, that the innocent ought not to suffer for the guilty, neither ought your people to take Any Satisfaction until you had first made your complaint And stated your sufferings. It is impossible for me to know when damage is done to your people without you inform me; and your own good sense will point out to you that A Murderor seldom ever discovers upon himself, which I Suppose is the reason why your people denies they have done any Mischeife.

"You say you have been a long Journey and While at philadelphia received very different talks from that of mine; and say that I say you are but a handful of people and in consequence of our superior[ity] in Numbers [added: Suppose] we have a right to do as we please — I deny saying we had a right [a right] to do as we please [added: &] on any such a supposition, neither is there any such a word in any letter it is true I said you were only a handful of people, which is the truth and I also advised you of the danger of going to war; If the people at philadelphia have told you that you were [added: are] a Numerous and strong people, and that you ought to go to War and kill your white brothers, they have not told you that which is true, nor that which would be for your good and the interest of your nation [added: was you to take such advice]. I spok what I said in my letter was to convince your nation of their danger and the Great evils that always attend a war, and the distressing condition your people would be in, Should Such a thing take place — You say that you Wish I would talk to My people and tell them not to cross the River Tennessee or to survey your land — I have often told them that, neither do I wish or intend any such thing should be done. But you know I am a great Way from that place, and cant See what every foolish Man is doing, I expected that the gaurds at Tellico, and your own would stop such people from Crossing Over, and I Suppose, [added: they] Would was they to see them, but neither them nor myself can see the transaction of every bad man, no More, then [than] you can your people, who come over on our side And kill our people and steal our horses.

"Now brother I hope I have Said enough to convince You, that I dont Wish our people and yours to go enter into War against each other, and I hearby declare that I wish to have peace and friendship subsisting between the two Nations, and shall with all my heart and strength do every thing in my power to promote the same — I hope You will do the same and [added: also] endeavor to keep your people Within the bounds of reason; and let us try to prevent Any further effusion of blood. I wish us to live friendly and bury all Anemosities deep in the earth, If you have complaints, the government will redress them, and you know they are taking measures to effect the same, but if your people will undertake contrary to the treaty Articles of the treaty to redress themselves, you cant expect the government will do it — I request that you will make enquiry into the murder lately done on Pigion; and if You can [added: possible] have them [added: the murderors] punished agreably to the Articles of Treaty. — your people could have no color of excuse for committing Any depredations on that Quarter for they are not on lands claimed by your Nation, Neither have they interupted any of your people —

"I hope to have an answer from you as soon as possible.
Your friend, J. [John] Sevier

Did Red Bird's son Aaron "Red Bird" in KY receive or see a copy of this letter?

On 10 FEB 1797 in Taluegue, KY, he was murdered with his friend Old Chief Will of Ahoka (signer of the Treaty at Hopewell 28 Nov 1785), by Ned Mitchell and John Levinstone. Red Bird/Aaron Brock's son Aaron, it is said, "immediately protested to Gov. Blount of KY, who wrote to then Gov. John Sevier of TN. After a 3-mo. wait and no response from Sevier, Aaron took a party of eight to Madison Co., KY, to hunt down and kill Mitchell and Levinstone. Both men were dead bef 1 Jul 1797."

Other sources:

1. Jess Wilson's WHEN THEY HANGED THE FIDDLER, pp. 139-141, in Clay Co., KY, Historical Society.

2. Stephen Tuders in archives of Jess Wilson, curated at Berea College in Berea, KY. Copies in Clay Co. Historical Society archives, Subject: Red Bird's village migrations.

3. University of Tennessee Libraries Special Collections, Document t1036, This work is the property of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

4. The McLemore Connection, Url: defunct site, on 14 Jun 2005 was

5. New World Outlook, Sep-Oct 1993, p. 56.

Aaron Brock, Chief Red Bird, was a friend of Dillon Asher, who maintained a tollgate on the border of Cherokee Treaty land, near present-day Pineville. Pineville was on the Cherokee Boundary Line by the Treaties of 1785, 1792, and 1798. Asher fought in favor of the Cherokee against Evan Shelby, brother of Isaac Shelby, first governor of Kentucky and a commissioner to relinquish Cherokee land claims along the Cumberland River. Red Bird warned Asher that Evan Shelby was going to have him killed, and he fled to present-day Harlan County, and named the new settlement after his Cherokee friend, Red Bird. Dillon Asher's nephew Dillon Asher II (1797-1858, son of John Asher) married Henrietta Bolling, a Powhatan descendant of Pocohantas and John Rolfe.

Children of Chief Red Bird (Indian names from Mr. Jim White, whose Moytoy website is now defunct):

Aaron "Red Bird" "Tsisquaya" BROCK b. 1748, d. 11 Sep 1811
Mahala Susannah BROCK b: 1749 in Cumberland Co., VA, d. 1820
Jesse BROCK "Gayasihatsula" b. 08 Dec 1751 in Cumberland Co., VA, d. 1848, Harlan Co., KY (served in Revolution)
John BROCK "Atsilagolanv" Fire Raven b. 1754 in Taleague, now Clay Co., KY (served in Revolution)
Mary "Polly" BROCK "Ulunitaguledisgonihi" b. 28 Oct 1757 in Grayson Co., VA, d. 1855
James BROCK "Unalasgiunula" b. 25 Aug 1759 in VA or NC, d. 1823 Cumberland Co., KY (served in Revolution)

Accounts by descendants place the arrival of MAHALA SUSANNAH BROCK (b. 1749, Cumberland Co., VA), daughter of AARON, and her husband EDWARD "Ned" CALLAHAN, in what became Harlan Co., KY, as late 1790s-1801. Yet, the first historical account of the Red Bird River, named for the chief of the nearby village, was in 1761 ~ so the Chief was there apparently before the Brocks were.

We must remember the seasonal migratory lifestyle of the tribes. Dr. Tankersley said, "One important aspect about the Kentucky Cherokee at that time was their high mobility. Robert Benge, for example, left records in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. King David Benge left records in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Canada, Louisiana. John Benge left records in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.

"Red Bird's village movement can be tracked by the documents left behind from the white captive, Stephan Tuders, born in Virginia in 1770; found in Red Bird's village in then Virginia, present-day Clay County, Kentucky, in 1772. He moved with the village to North and South Carolina in 1778. In 1793, he married a Chicamaugan woman from the village in South Carolina. In 1795 his daughter Leathy was born and in 1800 his daughter Polly was born, both in South Carolina. In 1810, he returned with Red Bird's band to Clay County, Kentucky, after the massacre of Yahoo Falls."

Recorded in the 1870s by Dr. James Dickey in his Diary, his narrative on the death of Chief Red Bird was almost identical to the Kentucky historical marker pictured on previous page, but places Chief Red Bird in the Whitetop Laurel Band of Cherokees from North Carolina:

 "The Indian Chief for whom Red Bird Creek in Clay County was named is known as member of the Whitetop Laurel Band of Cherokees from North Carolina. He was a great hunter and allured by the game in this remote region. He finally took up residence on the creek that bears his name at the mouth of Jacks Creek in this county. He came to his death by the abarice of the "pale face". There lived with him a crippled Indian named Willie. This man dressed the skins which Red Bird brought to their wigwam and looked after the culinary department of their house. Some hunters from North Carolina, greedy and unscrupulous, came to the wigwam and murdered Willie. Then they secreted themselves and awaited the return of the brave chief who had long before buried his tomahawk and for years had been living in peace with the white man, and as he approached his crude castle the bullet of an assasin laid him in the dust. They threw his body into a hole of water nearby which is still called "Willie Hole", and from which John Gilbert and others took him and buried him. One tradition is that he was sitting on the bank of a creek fishing when he was shot and that he fell into the creek."

(Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 11, March 1997)

MAHALAH SUSANNAH BROCK and EDWARD "Ned" CALLAHAN"s daughter JENNY "Jane" CALLAHAN (b. 1770, Scott Co., VA) married WILLIAM S. STRONG and the two families moved from KY to MO in the mid-1850s. A book, Strong Family in Kentucky, written ca 1960 by Mrs. J. C. Hurst, Lexington, KY, begins:

"The Strong family of Breathitt and Owsley Cos., KY was established by William, who was born about the year 1768 in VA and died about the year 1848. He was married about the year 1790 to Jennie Callahan (commonly called Jane), who was born about the year 1779 and died about the year 1815. She was a daughter of Edward and Mahalah Brock Callahan. Mahalah was a daughter of AARON BROCK and a sister of JESSE BROCK, who lived in Harlan County. The Brocks were part Indian. William Strong was a son of Daniel and a grandson of John Strong. They originally came from Ireland.

"Before coming to KY William was living at Holston Springs in Scott Co., VA.

"About the year 1800 or 1801, a party was organized in Scott Co., VA, to come to KY. This party was composed of Edward Callahan and family ~ William Strong and family ~ Daniel Davidson and three sons Samuel, John, and Robert, with their families ~ also Roger and Robin Cornett. Some reports say that the Cornetts came a year or two previous to this time. The above mentioned parties brought along with them their livestock ~ household goods ~ slaves and other possessions.

"William Strong, Samuel Davidson and the two Cornetts had married daughters of Edward Callahan. After arriving in KY the above named parties settled on the North fork of the Kentucky river at and near the mouth of Grapevine Creek in (now) Perry Co.

"William Strong acquired a tract of land on the opposite side of the river from the mouth of Grapevine. It extended from near what is now Chavies down the river so as to include Strong's Branch. On this land he erected a log building where he made his home for some eight or ten years. He, as a deputy assessor, made the first assessment of all land and personal property on the North fork, which was then embraced in the new County of Clay. He was leader of the 'North Forkers' in the famous 'cattle war' which began in the year 1806. . ."

A book entitled THE BROCKS: Ephraim Brock and Aggie Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia: Their Ancestors and Descendants, by Luther F. Addington, published in 1972 by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, in Wise, VA, does not even mention Aaron Brock, but begins with his son Jesse.

Dr. Kenneth Tankersley, anthropologist, researching and writing a book about the Cherokee of Kentucky, is a Brock descendant, as well as other mixed-blood families, continuing research into the identify of Chief Red Bird (not Cutsawah as some thought, but Totsu'hwa) has ruled out several others who might've been Red Bird, and it's now more likely that AARON BROCK was Chief Red Bird.

ELIJAH BROCK, interviewed by Mrs. Annie Walker Burns, repeated in Rev. J. J. Dickey's diary, began with JESSE Brock and did not mention AARON, nor REUBEN.

"ELIJAH BROCK TESTIMONY Given personally to ANNIE WALKER BURNS (deceased 1942): JESSE BROCK WAS THE FIRST SETTLER ON WALLINS CREEK, KENTUCKY. He was about three-quarter indian, and had so much indian blood in him, that he had no trouble in living among the indians who were thickly settled in the mountains when he first came, raised his family among them, hunted along with them, with no trouble whatever. He homesteaded where Park Howard lives at this time."

See full text of Elijah Brock's interview.

(NOTE by Mrs. Burns, "It is said that Park Howard knows where Jesse Brock's grave is, and has designated same to satisfaction of members of the D.A.R.")

ELIJAH and his brother JAMES BROCK, also interviewed by Annie Walker Burns, were sons of AARON N. BROCK and BARBARA SHEPHERD. Aaron N. Brock was a son of AMON BROCK and MARY OSBORN. Amon was a son of JESSE BROCK and REBECCA HOWARD (whose parents were English-American). Elijah and James who were interviewed by Annie Walker Burns were brothers of my children's great-great-grandfather Carlo Brock.

James discussed his mother Barbara Shepherd's side of the family when interviewed on 3 Jan 1898 by Mrs. Burns, and his account of an Indian raid and capture of prisoners was hostile to the Indians. Speaking of the death of Jesse Brock on Wallins Creek, James said, "The Whites were surrounded by Indians."

Jesse's son Amon (about 3/8 Cherokee) married his 1st cousin, Mary "Molly" Osborn(e), whose parents were Jesse's sister Mary "Polly" Brock and Ephraim Washington Osborn(e), Jr. Ephraim's mother was Elizabeth Howard, whose relationship to Jesse's wife Rebecca Howard I don't know. Rebecca Howard's great-great-grandfather was Sir John Howard, Earl of Arundel (England).

Since Amon Brock and his wife/cousin were both about 3/8 Cherokee, so were their children, including son Aaron N. Brock and his wife Barbara Shepherd's sixteen children, including James, Elijah, and Carlo mentioned above. It is uncertain whether Barbara Shepherd's father James and grandfather Nimrod Shepherd were part Native. If not, James Brock was abt 3/16 Cherokee, and his paternal grandmother and great-grandmother were English-American.

One grandson said, "This was the year the notorious half-breed Cherokee Chief Benge . . .," but Benge went on the path of War because John Sevier and his followers had murdered his family. Benge came to Wallins Creek in Harlan County where his brother Joseph was living as a white-man. Benge wanted his brother to join him, but he refused.

Jesse Brock, Revolutionary Soldier
Revolutionary Ancestors: Jesse Brock 1, Osborn 2, Combs 3, Burkhart 4, Howard 5
Jesse's sons Amon Brock, Aaron Brock, Jesse Brock Jr., George Brock, James Brock
Aaron Brock's daughters Susanna Callahan and Mary Ann Osborn
Amon's son Aaron N. Brock
Maternal Lines: Burkhart, Combs, Howard, Jackson, Osborn, Shepherd
Millard's children
Sue Ann Morrow's Brock website
Jerry Taylor's BrockAncestry website
Brock DNA Project Results
In Search of Ice Age Americans by Kenneth B. Tankersley
Chief Red Bird at 1810 Massacre of Ywahoo Falls, by Dan Troxell
SEE my Cherokee page
BROCK Reunion 2001 in WV
 Following pages used by permission of Kenneth B. Tankersley, Ph.D., Anthropology Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati

 CHIEF RED BIRD ~ Excerpt from his book-in-progress, Kentucky Cherokee: People of the Cave

Yahoo Falls by Kenneth B. Tankersley

Kentucky's Native Past, by Kenneth B. Tankersley

Kinship Notes, by Kenneth B. Tankersley

NOTES: Kentucky Treaties, by Kenneth B. Tankersley

 Cherokee Syllabary, by Dr. Tankersle


  1. My Great grandfather was Hiram Brock, Sr. My Grandmother was Margarete Ruth Brock Langer. She often talked of her Cherokee Heritage. Thanks for a great read. I shared it with my family.

  2. Barthena Brock Sloan, daughter of Jesse Brock and Rebecca Howard, is my 5th gr grandmother. Thank you for this information. Very interesting!

  3. 1825—Amon Brock, Jr., born 1825, was my grandmother's great-great-great paternal grandfather) born in Kentucky.