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Yates and Cooper Cherokee-Choctaw-Sephardic Genealogies

Updated November 17, 2010


UPDATE: We have moved to Phoenix, where my company DNA Consultants has undergone growth and introduced new autosomal DNA ancestry tests. On the research front, a Melungeon sample has explored the mixed ethnicity of that group, while a Cherokee study has suggested the Cherokee people include many mitochondrial (female) lineages from the Middle East such as haplogroups J, T, U and X. After the publication of When Scotland Was Jewish in 2007, co-author Elizabeth Hirschman and I now expect to have our book Star, Crescent and Cross: Jews and Muslims in Colonial America appear sometime next year (2011).

I began by researching my father's family, the YATESES. I wrote The Bear Went Over the Mountain in 1995. "Yates" comes from Goetz, a contraction of the two Hebrew letters GZ standing for Ger Zedek whose meaning is "Righteous Convert." My "Deep South" Yateses are descended from John Yates/Yeatts, a saddler of Dan River, through William Yates, R.S. who settled in Heard County, Ga. These Yateses recently tested out as being French Jewish through DNA samples analyzed by Family Tree DNA in Houston. Elisabeth Yates, said to have been a fullblood Cherokee and my great-great-grandmother, was also mixed Sephardic, related to the family of Col. Will Thomas, founder of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Her parents were William Oliver Mitchell of South Carolina and Anna Thomas (born in Buncombe Co., N.C.).
For the past ten years I have been researching my mother's side, the COOPERS. The earliest figure here is William Cooper, a North Carolina trader and scout for Daniel Boone who died in the defense of Nashville. He is the son of James Cooper of Southwark Parish, Surry Co., Va., whose father was probably Thomas Cooper, a London merchant of Portuguese extraction. William's wife was Malleah/Malilah Labon, a Choctaw halfbreed woman. William's son Henry Labon Cooper married Molly Houston, daughter of Robert Houston of Caswell Co., N.C. Their son Isaac Cooper, b. about 1770, married a daughter of Cherokee chief Black Fox (Enola, d. 1811). Another daughter, Mary Ann Black married William Davis, d. Jackson Co., Ala., 1848. The Coopers are considered to be Melungeon, Portuguese or Black Dutch, and are sometimes found listed as Free Persons of Color, Mulatto or Indian. Naming patterns, family traditions and DNA testing confirm they are Jewish. It is a similar story with the DAVISES, ADKINS, BLEVINS (all three Welsh-Jewish, the Blevinses Semitic), SIZEMORES (early mixed with Indian in the male line according to recent DNA testing but Jewish in faith in Colonial times), LACKEYS and SHANKLES (from Holland via Scotland).

Names prominent in the reports on these pages are: ADAIR, ADKINS, BLACK, BLEVINS, BONDURANT-BUNDREN, COOPER, BURKE, DAVIS, DENNEY, GOBLE, FOSSETT/FAWCETT, GRABEN, MITCHELL, LACKEY, MUSE, SHANKLES, SIZEMORE, THOMAS, WEAVER, JORDAN, REDWINE, MCDONALD and YATES. Tribes represented are CHEROKEE, TIHANAMA, CHOCTAW, CHICKASAW, CREEK, YUCHI, EASTERN BLACKFOOT, NIPPISING, REDWINE, POWHATAN and SHAWNEE."


Donald N. Panther-Yates
dpy@dnaconsultants.com

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Family Photos

  • Pocahontas and son (44 KB)
    From Sedgewick Hall painting of Pocahontas in England, drawn from life, about 1620
  • Bessie Cooper, about 1942 (30 KB)
    Bessie Louise Cooper, daughter of Dolphy and Pally Cooper, from Sand Mountain, Alabama
  • Tecumseh (Tukumtheh) (5 KB)
    Tecumseh (Tukumtheh), Shawnee leader of Pan-American resistance movement, about 1812 (said to be a poor likeness but it is the only picture I am aware of).
  • Attakullakulla as young man in London, 1730 (13 KB)
    Detail of "Trustees of Georgia" painting by William Verelst...model identified as Attakullakulla
  • Henry Yates (30 KB)
    Great-grandfather Henry Yates, about 1900, lived to be 94, half or more Cherokee Indian
  • Seven Cherokees in London, 1730 (176 KB)
    Engraving of the seven Cherokees brought over to see King George II by Sir Alexander Cumming
  • Sequoyah (2 KB)
    Sequoyah, or George Guess, or Gist, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, from the only known painting, about 1820
  • Samuel Houston Cooper (20 KB)
    Grandson of Choctaw chief John Cooper born in Arkansas 1843. Courtesy of Dr. Ronald Martin.
  • Beloved Woman Nancy Ward (37 KB)
    A controversial cemetery statue of Nancy Ward from near her old homestead in Tennessee, stolen in the 1970s and missing ever since
  • Moses Looney, born June 8, 1780, in old tintype. (54 KB)
    The son of Capt. John Looney and Elizabeth Renfro, Moses was photographed in Masonic regalia in Alabama around the age of 70. He was born in Maury Co., Tenn. and died in Alabama. Courtesy Larry W. Johnson.
  • Lawden Henry Yates, my father (63 KB)
    Lawden Henry Yates, age 21, about 1940, at Berry College, Georgia
  • My grandfather, John Wesley Monroe Dolphus Cooper (438 KB)
    Dolph Cooper at age 21 or thereabouts, ca. 1900
  • Yuchi woman, 1730 (19 KB)
    Detail of Senauka, wife of Tomochichi, from William Verelst's "Trustees of Georgia"
  • Gen. John Adair (1757-1840) (9 KB)
    Adair was one of the first governors of Kentucky and the nephew of the author-trader James Adair (1709-1784). His dark looks are probably to be attributed to his Sephardic Jewish background rather than Indian blood.
  • Dragging Canoe (511 KB)
    Pencil sketch of Chief Dragging Canoe, son of Attacullaculla, and founder of Chickamauga movement, represented about 1790
  • Melmeth Lackey (1839-1905) (3 KB)
    Mel Lackey was the brother of my Lovina Adaline (Dovie) Lackey Shankles. The blend of "Black Dutch" and American Indian is obvious. Note the long white beard with crop of black hair and absence of sideburns.
  • George W. Yates, about 1880 (27 KB)
    Granduncle George Yates in Kansas, about 1880
 

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