The Rogers Connection Myth or Fact- McMinn Co TN

Note: This is a work in progress.  Visit often as I find more details!




By Sharon R McCormack

December 30, 2003


    I started to research this page with information based on a story that has long been a part of McMinn County Folklore. This is one story I would love to prove.  Behind every  myth is a grain of truth and I hope to find it.

McMinn County's Myth

    The famous humorist Will Rogers (November 4, 1879-August 15, 1935) who "never met a man he didn't like" had a McMinn County Connection.  His father, Clement Vann Rogers, was supposed to have been born ten miles South of Athens at the old WC Townsend place on the Eastanalle Road.

    McMinn County's beloved Journalist, Editor and Historian R Frank McKinney wrote in his column in the Etowah Enterprise (and later in the book Tall Tales and Unusual Happenings of McMinn Co) that Clem's father was John Rogers and his mother was a Vann (Catherine or Alcey?)  of the North Georgia Vann's, direct descendants of Nancy Ward.  He stated that John Rogers Station (located on the Athens-Tellico Railroad during the late 1800's) was named for Clem's father.  He also stated that Clem and his wife waited around McMinn County before taking their family west to Oklahoma where Will was born.

Facts, Questions and Theories

    Nancy Ward's granddaughter Rachel Hughes married a Charles Rogers who was the son of a John Rogers and Elizabeth Emory.  Nancy also had a grandson marry a Vann.  There are some authors who have indicated in the past that Charles Rogers was the great grandfather of Will Rogers.  I have found no indication that Clement Vann Rogers was a direct descendant of Nancy Ward.  All connections to her family are through more distant relatives. 

    If Clement was born here January 11 1839 or earlier we should have some sort of records available to prove it.   I checked the 1830 and 1840 McMinn County Census records.  McMinn County did have a  David, Dozwell, Elijah, George, Jesse, John, Joseph, Larkin, Robert, Thomas, and William Rogers in the 1830 census but not the 1840 census.  That would fit with the story--so far.  The Trail of Tears did not begin removing people from our area until May of 1838.  In the 1836 Tax List there are 7 Rogers listed-- E. H., Henry, James H., John,  John Sr., Lawson, and William. All of whom had war pensions. Two  Johns were still in McMinn County in 1836.  Five were in the Calhoun area (district 16) of the Hiwassee River.  John and Lawson were in the upper northwestern McMinn County area near Chuckaluck (districts 2 and 3). [See map of districts at 1836 District Tax Map]  The 1850 Census lists 7 Rogers in the area Andrew L, Eliza, John, 2 by the name of Thomas, William and William H. 

   One theory might say Roger and Sallie had come back to visit John in McMinn County when Clement was born.  However records for that time period in Indian Territory indicate Roger was there and it would be improbable that he would let his family travel that great of a distance without him.

    According to Richard M Ketchum's official book Will Rogers His Life and Times  the story begins to fall apart.  Clement Vann Rogers was the son of Robert Rogers and Sallie Vann.  Robert was a white man and Sallie was a quarter-blood Cherokee.   Robert and Sallie were married in Georgia around 1834.  They lived there until they left around 1835 or 1836.  They were not part of the removal.  They headed to Arkansas in anticipation of the removal.

    We do have a small question of whether the Rogers brothers were white or half-breeds.  Will's son James B wrote in a letter July 8, 1947 that "Robert Rogers, who was my great-grandfather, and who was part Cherokee, moved to the middle west with the great migration of the Cherokee tribe. His wife was named Sallie Vann."

     James goes on to say that "Robert Rogers, had two brothers, John and James. My grandfather, Clem Vann Rogers, was born near what in now Maysville, Okla." 

    At this point it was still possible that they might have come through McMinn County.  Except records show Robert was already settled in the Going-Snake district of Indian Territory (currently Oklahoma).  So Robert and Sallie weren't in McMinn County at the time Clement was supposed to have been born. That still doesn't disprove a McMinn Connection just pushes it back further than Clement's birth.

    There is evidence that suggests that Robert and John Rogers were brothers.  They both married daughters of Avery and Margaret McSwain Vann.  Whether they lived in McMinn County becomes the next question.  And whether the John Rogers that Mr. McKinney mentioned is the same as the brother of Robert Rogers and married to Catherine Vann is the real question.  If they are then the McMinn Connection would be Will Rogers Great Great Uncle.  That has yet to be proven.  We do know there are several Rogers and Vanns in McMinn County.  Especially around the Calhoun area.

   There are quite a few sources that state Robert's father was Robert "Bob" Rogers, an Irish-Scotsman. He came to what is now West Virginia around 1800 to trade with the Indians. Later, he married Lucy Elizabeth "Betty" Cordery who was half-blood Cherokee.   This would follow that Robert was at least one- fourth Cherokee.   I have also found several sources that insist that Robert's father was  John Roberts, who married Sarah Cordery (Lucy's sister).  Apparently though John was the older Robert's brother.  There are also several sources who list John as Captain John Rogers and Alcey Vann's son. Either way the younger Robert would have been at least one-fourth Cherokee.

   Calhoun Tennessee had a John "Hellfire Jack" Rogers married to an Alcey Vann in the late 1700's.  Alcey was supposedly the sister of Chief James Vann. There are a lot of researchers who question whether it was the same John married to Alcey as the one married to Elizabeth Emory and her daughter Jennie Due. Polygamous "marriages" were sometimes found in relationships in the early days.  I haven't found anything that would definitively declare one way or another.  There were several men named John Rogers.  All I can say is Jack and Alcey might be something that would have been believed at the time this legend became known in our county.

   A quick note about Cherokee marriages.  Many times marriage was not what we would know it as today.  Marriage was a man giving a woman a blanket and divorce was as simple as throwing the blanket out the door or tearing it in half.  It would be easier sometimes to think in terms of being companions that happened to have children together. 

    Hellfire Jack's daughter was Tiana Rogers Gentry who went on to marry Sam Houston.  At least one Houston biographer, John Hoyt Williams claims Will Rogers is her descendant.  In 1929 Marquis James, another Sam Houston Biographer, claims that Will Rogers was the great grandson of Tiana's half brother Captain John Rogers. 

The children of John Rogers and Elizabeth Emory were:
i. Capt, Charles Rogers b.c.1772 m. Nannie Downing
ii. Aky (Arkansas) Rogers b.c.1774 m(1) George Hicks (Old Settler); m(2) Daniel Vickery
iii. James Rogers b.c.1776 m. Nannie Coody
iv. Capt. John Rogers b.c.1778 d. 1846 Washington D.C. m(1) Elizabeth Coody
v. Nannie Rogers b.c. 1780 m(1) Looney Price m(2) Nelson B. Grubbs
Children of John Rogers and Jennie Due:
vi. Anne Rogers b.c.1785 m(1) John W. Flowey?; m(2) Thomas Irons
vii. Joseph Rogers b.c. 1787 d.young
viii. William Rogers b.c.1789 m. Nellie May (he became a judge)
ix. Susannah Rogers b.c.1792  Nicholas Miller
x. Tiana Rogers b.c.1796 d. 1838 m(1) Sam Houston 1811 m(2) David Gentry c.1816 m(3) Sam Houston 1829 m(4) Samuel McGrady 1836

   Could this 1929 book be part of Frank McKinney's belief? It would definitely fit with his personal belief since The Rogers-Vann connection would be in Calhoun.  The big problem with basing such an assumption on the name basis breaks down with so many Rogers-Vann marriages and so many John Rogers.

    There is also the question, does the myth concern another Clement?  Clement had a cousin named Clement I Vann.  Without further investigation it would be impossible to say that this Clement was the correct one but it does add another layer of possibilities onto our mystery. 

   David Vann and his wife Martha McNair Vann had a son, Joseph Lewis Vann, who married Caroline Sixkiller, daughter of Redbird Sixkiller, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs say that these were the parents of Clement I. Vann. According to the Tulsa Newspaper at the time of Will Rogers death, Clement I. Vann was Will Rogers cousin, and they wrote several statements Clement made concerning Rogers boyhood days.  Clement I would have been Clement Vann Rogers 1st cousin once removed.

  However, the connection may not be on Clem's side.  There is a slim possibility that the family link would be on Mary Schrimsher's side.  She is related to the Gunter's of Gunters Landing Tennessee (now Guntersville Alabama) and, supposedly, the Bushyhead clan of the Cherokee nation.

Will Rogers

1. Wm. Penn Adair Rogers b. 4 Nov 1879, pob. Indian Territory (I.T.) (Now Rogers Co Ok)
m. 25 Nov 1908, Rogers Ark.
d. 15 Aug 1935 pod. Point Barrow, Alaska

William Penn Rogers was named after William Penn Adair who asked Mary and Clem at young Will's birth to "name the young chief after me".

So much has been printed and put online about Will Rogers I beg you to check out the sites listed at the end of this page.

Betty Blake b. 9 Sep 1879 d. 21 Jun 1944 p. b. Benton Co. Ark pod. Santa Monica Ca.


The Ancestors of Will Rogers

2. Clement "Clem" Vann Rogers

Will's Father
Clement Vann Rogers b. 11 Jan 1839 pob. I. T. (now Adair Co Ok)

m. 1858-59, Ft. Gibson Ok
d. 28 Oct 1911 pod. Chelsea, Rogers, OK.

burial Rogers Family Cemetery Westville Ok (according to the cemetery website on the Adair Co Ok Genweb site this cemetery is currently in poor shape)

Much is written about Clem because of his political work.  Although to begin with he wasn't doing it as politics-- he was trying to help his nation.  He became an important person whom everyone trusted and that led to his political career. 

The picture on the left is a young Clem Rogers and the other is an older version.
Both pictures are available through the auspices of the Will Rogers Museum in Oklahoma.

Clement was born January 1 1839 in Indian Territory in what is now Adair Co Oklahoma.

His father died between 1840-1842.  Some sources say Clem was one year old while other indicate it was in 1842.  Clem's mother married William Musgrave in 1844 when Clem was five.  He refused to attend the wedding and, as the newlyweds started to leave for their honeymoon, he threw rocks.

Clement was educated at Baptist Mission, Going Snake District, and at the Male Seminary.

Clement left home at age 17.  His mother and stepfather gave him 25 longhorn cows, a bull, 4 horses, supplies for a ranch and trading post and two slaves who had belonged to his father.

Clement married Mary America Schrimsher around 1858-1859   Clement and Mary had eight children: Elizabeth, Sallie Clementine,  Robert Martin,  Maud Ethel, Mary "May", Zoe, Homer, and Will. Of these children only Will, Sallie, Maude, and  May survived to adulthood.

He was Captain of Co. C First Cherokee Mounted Volunteers under Stand Waitie  during the Civil War and a senator from Cooweescoowee District in the Confederate Cherokee Council from 1862 to 1865.

Clement was elected Judge of Cooweescoowee Dist. Aug. 5, 1877; senator from the same District August 4, 1879, August 1, 1883, August 7, 1899, and August 3, 1903.

He was elected as a member of the Cherokee Commission to negotiate with the "Dawes" Commission for the final disposition of the Cherokee Nation. And elected a member of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention from the Sixty-fourth District on November 6, 1906.

Rogers County, Oklahoma, was named for him, because at the time his was one of the oldest families in the area.

Clem and wife Mary are buried in Chelsea Cemetery in Rogers County, OK, with three of his Georgia kin.

Here is a copy of Clements obituary: 

An obituary and memorial published Nov 3, 1911 in the Claremore, OK Progress* best highlights Clem Vann Rogers' life and public service:

Mr. C.V. Rogers, familiarly known as Uncle Clem, one of Claremore's oldest and most respected citizens, died Saturday night, October 28, 1911, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J.T. McSpadden, in the town of Chelsea and will be buried at that place Tuesday afternoon, November 3, at 3 o'clock. Mr. Rogers had been failing in health for several years, and his death was not unexpected by those intimately acquainted with him. He died sometime Saturday night and was found Sunday morning by his daughter when she went to his room to call him for breakfast.

Mr. Rogers was one of the most prominent citizens of the Cherokee people and was noted far and wide as a most philanthropic and public spirited citizen; he was a friend of the school children, and every person in distress could find a ready helper in Uncle Clem Rogers. He amassed a fortune in his time but a large portion of it had been devoted to charity before he died.

He was vice-president of the First National Bank of this city from its organization until his death. Mayor E.A. Church issued a proclamation requesting every business house in this city to close its doors from 3 to 4 pm Tuesday afternoon as a mark of respect for our distinguished citizen. Clement Vann Rogers was Going Snake District of the Cherokee Nation near the present site of the town of Westville in Adair County. His parents were Robert and Sallie Rogers, nee Vann. He attended the Male Seminary at Tahlequah for several years, although he was not a graduate of that institution.

In 1856 he moved to Rabbs Creek west of the town of Oologah and established a cattle ranch and trading post with the Osages. This was the first cattle ranch and trading post in the Cooweescoowee District which at that time embraced nearly all the Cherokee Nation west of the Grand River. In 1858 he was married to Miss Mary A. Schrimsher, a sister of the late Judge John G. Schrimsher. To this union (eight) children were born, three of whom survive the deceased. They are Mrs. J.T. McSpadden and Mrs. C.L. Lane of Chelsea, and William P. Rogers of this City.

At the commencement of the Civil War, Mr. Rogers espoused the cause of the Southern Confederacy and served with distinction as a soldier and a statesman throughout the four years. He enlisted in Company G of the First Regiment of Mounted Cherokee volunteers under Capt. James L. Buttler; Col., Stand Watie was the colonel of the regiment. He was elected 1st Lieutenant in this company and in 1863 was elected captain of Company C of the same regiment.

He was a member of the Senate of the Confederate Council from 1861-1865. After the war he settled in 1869 on the Verdigris river about three miles east of the town of Oologah, where he later built a palatial home and improved what was known far and wide as the best ranch in the Cherokee Nation. About this time he also embarked in the cattle business and became wealthy. He was elected Judge of Cooweescoowee District in 1877 serving this country in this capacity for two years.

In August, 1879, he was elected as Senator of the Cherokee Council, was re-elected in 1881, 1883 and again in 1889. In 1898 and 1899, he served on the Commission to provide for the relinquishment of the title to their lands by the Cherokee people, paving the way to individual allotments.

Grover Cleveland, in 1893, appointed Mr. Rogers as a member of the Commission to appraise the improvements of intruders in the Cherokee Nation.

His first wife died on May 28, 1890 and on June 8, 1893 he was married to Miss Mary A. Bibles, daughter of the Hon. John Bibles; she died January 17, 1900.

In 1907, he was elected a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, where he served with distinction, being the oldest member of that body.

SOURCE:  Unhallowed Intrusion, by Don Shadburn, pg204-206


Clement Vann Rogers, born at the Baptist Mission in Going-Snake District, Indian Territory, January 11, 1839, and died October 28, 1911, buried in the Chelsea Cemetery. Son of Robert and Sallie (Vann) Rogers. Educated in the Baptist Mission School and the Cherokee Male Seminary. Married Mary A. Schrimsher, October 12, 1859, who died May 28, 1890. The following children were born to them who survive, Mrs. Sallie C. McSpadden, wife of J. T. McSpadden, Chelsea, Oklahoma, and Mr. Will Rogers. of Beverly Hills, California. Three other children died during infancy and the following to-wit: Robert Martin Rogers, born April 15, 1866, died April 13, 1881; Maud Rogers, born November 28, 1871, married to C. L. Lane and died May 15, 1925; Mary Rogers, born May 31, 1873, married first to Matthew Yocum and second to Frank Stine, died July 25, 1909. Martin Robert Rogers and Mrs. C. L. Lane are buried at Chelsea, and Mrs. Stine is buried at Oolagah. Elected in 1878 and served a term as Judge of Cooweescoowee District. In 1880 elected Senator from the same district, holding the office for three terms. In 1893 appointed by President Cleveland as one of a commission of three to appraise the improvements of white settlers in the Cherokee Nation. In 1898 and 1899 served as a member of a commission from the Cherokee Nation to present matters before the Dawes Commission. On January 11, 1907, Rogers County was named in his honor by the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, on his sixty-eighth birthday. He was a member of said convention from District No. 64, Rogers County being a part of said district.

SOURCE: Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 8, No. 4 December, 1930 NECROLOGY


3. Mary America Schrimsher b. 9 Oct 1839 pob. Indian Territory (near Tahlequah Ok)
Married: 1858 in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory (what is now Ft Gibson, OK)

d. 28 May 1890 pod. Chelsea, Rogers, OK.


This is the only known picture of Mary Schrimpshire Rogers.
Made available through the auspices of the Will Rogers Museum in Oklahoma.


4. Robert Rogers
b. Jul 16 1815 GA -- (Some sources suggest Habersham although I have found no proof of this)
Married: Abt 1834
d. 4 JUL 1842 in Westville, I. T.
Note: Robert was killed in a tribal dispute near Westville, Cherokee Nation; Robert was killed after being mistaken for his cousin, Dr Robert Rogers. [SOURCE: Unhallowed Intrusions, Don Shadburn, pg 198]
[Ketchum's book-- says Robert was killed when Clement was only one year old]
p. d. I. T. (now Adair Co Ok)

[His brother John married Sallie's sister Catherine(b1808)--children from this union were- Robert, William, Johnson K, Lovely, Mary, Jackson, Cynthia, Ann Chapel, Henry Curtis, George, John Pendergrass.  Again there seems to be some discrepancies, Starr says Catherine only had a child Nannie.  ]

5. Sally Vann
b. 28 Jan 1818
pob. GA
d. 28 May 1882
pod. Now Adair Co. Okla.

m.2nd Wm. Musgrove (had two by Musgrave: William and Frank)

Robert Rogers and Sallie Vann's two children:

1) Margaret Lavinia Rogers, married Allison Woodville Timberlake.
2) Clement Vann Rogers, who married first Mary A. Schrimsher: married second, Mary Bible


6. Martin Mathew Schrimsher
b. 1806/7
pob. Blount Co. TN
m./2 22 Sep 1831 Ala
pod. I.T. (now OK)

Martin Mathew Schrimsher was a white man born in East Tennessee who lived among the Cherokee and for a brief period of time went to California in 1849

7. Elizabeth "Betty" Hunt Gunter

Elizabeth Gunter Schrimsher
Will's maternal grandmother

b. Sep 1804
pob. Creek Path Al
d. 14 Feb 1877
pod. Now Claremore OK

[Parents John Gunter (?-21 August 1844) and Katherine, supposed,  daughter  of Chief Bushyhead.  Was this the same Bushyhead who Starr has married to Nannie Forman?]

Martin and Betty's children were: John Gunter, Elizabeth Alabama (m1 to John Lafayette Adair and m2 to Dennis Wolf Bushyhead), Mary America, Sarah Catherine, and Martha Lucretia.

8.Robert "Bob" J. Rogers of the Cherokee Nation East
Birth: ABT 1785 in Burke County, GA
m 1810 GA
Death: 1828 in GA 

Is this the same Robert Rogers who was elected at Hickory Log District of North Georgia  in 1826?  It seems a definite possibility although there is no proof so far.

9.Lucy "Betty" Elizabeth  Cordery

b.1786 in in Cherokee Indian Nation, East, GA
Bob and Betty supposedly married
ABT 1788 in Cherokee Nation East
Betty died between 1860 and 1895.  Where is unknown although some people believe it was in what is now Adair Co OK.  The belief is she was buried in Westville Ok at  the Rogers family Cemetery.  That would be an interesting fact if not for the detail that Clem was the first of six family members buried there.  He was buried  in 1911 well after Betty died.

Children: Catherine m Alexander McDaniel, Nannie m. Alexander Jordan and John Anderson, Robert m Sallie Vann, John m Hettie Mosely & Catherine Vann, and James.

Fact: Will Rogers' great-grandfather, Robert Rogers, was an Irish-Scotchman. He came to what is now West Virginia around 1800 to trade with the Indians. He married Lucy Cordery who was half-blood Cherokee. They moved to Georgia, and had a son, Robert Rogers, Jr. in 1815. He grew up and married Sally Vann, a 3/8 Cherokee, in 1835, and Clem (Will's father) was born in 1839. He married Mary America Schrimsher in 1859. They had 7 babies before Will came along in 1879. (Main source: Will Rogers: a Biography, by Ben Yogoda.)

10. Avery Vann [ABT 1764 in Cherokee Nation]
11. Margaret McSwain

[Her sister Elizabeth married David Welch.  Their half brother was Thomas Pettit Sr.]

Avery and Margaret had several children.  They were Joseph, David, Margaret, Andrew M, Nannie, Catherine, Mary, Keziah, Charles, Clement, Sallie, Elizabeth, Eliza, Clara, Jennie.
14. John Gunter DIED 17 DAYS LATER ON AUGUST 28, 1835. at Gunter's Landing.

Emmet Starr says John Gunter was an Englishman.

According to the Gunter page {Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River (near the present George Houston Bridge) around 1785, where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided to settle near the river and trade with the Indians, the majority of which were Cherokees. A Cherokee by the name of Chief Bushyhead, head of the Paint Clan, brought his beautiful 15 year old daughter, Ghe-go-he-li, to exchange for Gunter's salt. Gunter accepted the bargain and changed his bride's name to Katherine. Chief Bushyhead and Gunter signed a treaty stating "as long as the grass grows and the waters flow the Indians can have salt."}

15. Katherine Bushyhead  DIED IN GUNTER’S LANDING ON AUGUST 11, 1835.  

Emmet Starr says Catherine was the daughter and granddaughter of Ghi-go-neli and great granddaughter of Oo-loo-tsa of the Holly Clan.  He also says that she was a "woman of the paint clan".  Which could be possible since clan designation is determined by the matrilineal side.

Children of John and Catherine are Samuel, Aky, Martha J, Edward, Elizabeth Hunt, John, Catherine.

16. William Rogers? b 1740    d 1800 in Burke County, GA

Children: Robert m Lucy Cordery, John m Sarah Cordery

It's probable there are more children but so far I have not uncovered them.

At least one source refers to John as "Nolichucky Jack" Rogers b. 1779 in the Cherokee Nation, Burke, Ga., d. 30 Jul 1851

17. Mary Penn b 1763 in Burke Co., GA

There are some stories that indicate that Mary Penn may be related to William Penn for whom Pennsylvania is named. 

18.Thomas III Cordery bABT 1765 in St. George's Parish, GA d 1840 in Gwinnett, GA bur Cummings, GA

He is listed in the Silas Dinsmore letter as living in the Cherokee Country but not being a native.
[children:  Sarah m John Rogers, Lucy m Robert Rogers, Nannie m Parker Collins, Charlotte m Henry Vickery, David m Charlotte Goss, Hettie m Henry Vickery and John Vance, Early m Charlotte Berryhill, Susan m John Mosley]

19.Susannah Sonicooie. b ABT 1770 d 1818 in Suwanee Old Town, Gwinnett, GA  bur GA


20.Clement Vann b. abt 1747 d aft 1829

The ancestor of the Vann family among the Cherokees was Clement Vann who, in a deposition given by him at the head of the Coos River on December 1, 1829, stated that he was then 82 years old, and that he had come into the Cherokee country about fifty years before and that he had lived there ever since. This would place Clement Vann's birth about the year 1747, and the year of his coming among the Indians about 1780. Clement Vann married WA-WLI, a full blood Cherokee woman, and they are mention in the reports of the Moravian missionaries, as their proximity to the mission brought them in touch with the white man stationed there. (Allen, Penelope J)

Their children are:
i. Eliza Vann.
ii. Clara Vann.
iii. Jennie Vann.
iv. Joseph Vann "Teautle", born 11 February 1798; died 03 May 1877.
v. David Vann, born 01 January 1800; died 23 December 1863 in Ok. {Note:  was said to have been born about 14 miles S.W. of present Rome, Georgia, in the area where Avery VANN evidently lived, with his family, for several years. VANN'S VALLEY, in that area is said to have been named for Avery VANN. David VANN was recorded as living "at Head of Coosa River.", which would also locate his birthplace as in the vicinity of Rome Georgia.}
vi. Margaret Vann, born 1802.
vii. Andrew Jackson Marion Vann, born 1804; died 1843.
viii. Nannie Vann, born 1806.
ix. Catherine Vann, born 1808.
x. Mary Vann, born 1810.
xi. Keziah Vann, born 1812.
xii. Charles Vann, born 1814. He married Eliza West.
xiii. Clement Vann, born 1816.
xiv. Sallie Vann, born 11 June 1818; died 28 May 1882.
xv. Elizabeth Vann, born 02 November 1820; died 11 December 1896. ]
(this from the Vann Generation 6-8.htm who got it from William H. Vann of Fort Worth , Texas: VANN GENERATIONS WITH CHEROKEE ORINHS SC, GA & TN.)

 21.Wa-Wli (Mary) Vann (WaWli was married twice--John (or Joseph) Vann and Clement) (Clement and John had a brother Avery whom the younger Avery was named for) (believed to be the daughter of John Vann--WA-WLI was WA-WLI VANN daughter of JOHN VANN and SISTER OF RAVEN. She was born Abt. 1747, and died Abt. 1835 in Spring Place, GA.]) (Hembree-Vann Connection Pt 1)(john Joseph Vann page)

Found her name spelled Wah-Li, WaWli, and Wa-Whi. (War-le in the Lower dialect)

In 1819, WA-WHI baptized by the Moravians and her Cherokee name was changed to Mary Christianna. She was removed from her home near Spring Place, Georgia with the rest of the Cherokees to the West, and is said to have attained the great age of 130 years.

Avery Vann married Margaret McSwain and from his descendants Vann's Valley in Floyd County, Georgia, takes its name.

Clement Vann and his wife WA-WLI {Mary} had issue among other children: (according to the Hembree Vann Connection Clement was Stepfather)

1. James Vann, born 1769, died February 1909, a powerful half-breed Chief of the Cherokees, who married several times. The names of three of his wives are Jennie Foster, Elizabeth Thornton, and Margaret {Peggy} Scott.

[James Clement II6 Vann "Chief" (John "Joseph"5, Edward4, John3, William2, John1) was born 1768 in Spring Place, GA, and died 19 February 1809 in GA. He married (1) Jennie Foster Abt 1788. He married (2) Elizabeth Thornton Abt 1794. He married (3) Margaret Scott Abt 1797, daughter of Walter Scott.

Notes: " James Clement Vann usually identified as James VANN, or "Chief" is said to have been born in the 21st year of his father, usually recognized as James Clement VANN. His mother was Wah Li, the Cherokee girl. There are some differences of opinion as to who Chief VANN's father was, but all agree that Wah Li was his mother. (No where in early writing has this writer, (W.H.V., Jr.) seen Chief James VANN identified as James Clement VANN, Jr., but always James Clement VANN II.)" (this from the Vann Generation 6-8.htm who got it from William H. Vann of Fort Worth , Texas: VANN GENERATIONS WITH CHEROKEE ORINHS SC, GA & TN.)


2. Avery Vann married Margaret McSwain and, from his descendants Vann's Valley in Floyd County, Georgia, takes its name.

3. Nancy Vann, married John Falling {or Fawling}, killed in a duel by Chief James Vann in 1807. Nancy lived on the federal road near Spring Place, Georgia.

4. Alcey Vann married John "Hellfire Jack" Rogers.  Her daughter Polly Ann married a Samuel Dawson.

   Alcey and John Rogers lived in near Calhoun on the Hiwassee River.  Calhoun was the first County Seat for McMinn County.

   Captain John Rogers, a Scottish trader, was known as “Hell-Fire” Jack for his lifestyle. One of John’s daughters, was Tiana Rogers, Cherokee wife of Sam Houston. She is buried in the national cemetery at Fort Gibson. according to the Dick Fox's website.  There are a few sources that indicate he was born in TN and a few to indicate Scotland.  So far I haven't got proof for either place.

   Tiana was married to David Gentry before marrying Sam Houston around 1830.  John Hoyt Williams claims Tiana was an ancestor of Will Rogers.  At best she was a distant cousin.

    Starr doesn't mention Alcey or Alsey.  He doesn't mention all the Cherokee just the families who went west.  That makes a difficult job of proof for those whose families remained behind.

 22.Alexander McSwain

 23.Nancy Downing  [married at three times- to McSwain, Crittenden,  and Pettit] [Dau of Major Downing and a Cherokee woman of the Wolf Clan.]


30. Bushyhead  born 1758/9 in the vicinity of Fort Loudon, Tennessee. died between 1809 and 1818.  Son of Commissioner John Stuart.  Did not go by the name Stuart.  Did not use name Bushyhead until age forty.  Bushyhead is believed by several authorities to have went by the name Tah-lah-tee-skee (or variations of this spelling) and may have been the brother of Chief Oo-loo-teka (Chief John Jolly).

Bushyhead, according to Starr, was married to Nannie Foreman and had the following children: Jesse, Susan C., Jacob and Charles.  He was also married to an unknown Cherokee woman and had Catherine, Isaac, George, Nannie,

I suppose one could make an argument that Susan C was Catherine except for the fact Susan was married to Ezekiel Lyons and L. P. Harris. 

We may never have proof to say exactly who was the mother of Katherine.


32. Robert Rogers b. 1710 Burke Co., GA

60. John Stuart

61. Susannah Emory

122. William Emory

123. ____Grant

246. Ludovic Grant


In summary, I can't find anything to indicate a close connection to Will Rogers.  There is some indication that his ancestors were in the North Georgia-Southeast Tennessee area.  We may assume there was some of Will Rogers ancesters who at least passed through McMinn County but, unfortunately, not Clement Vann Rogers or and equally close relative.  Frank McKinney didn't have the resources currently available to researchers and took what was said by old-timers, wanting a famous relative on their tree, as gospel.



Book Resources:

The Autobiography of Will Rogers Edited by Donald Day 1944 [This is a book edited from Will Rogers columns]

Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 8, No. 4 December, 1930 NECROLOGY p 461 (available online)

Clement Vann The Chattanooga Sunday Times Magazine Section July 26, 1936 by: Penelope J. Allen, State Chairman of Genealogical Records Tennessee Society D.A.R (available online)

History of the Cherokee Indians by Emmet Starr, 1921

Sam Houston: A Biography of the Father of Texas, by John Hoyt Williams1993

The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston by Marquis James 1929

Unhallowed Intrusion, by Don Shadburn, 1996

Will Rogers Ambassador of Good Will Prince of Wit and Wisdom By P. J. O'Brien 1935

Will Rogers: a Biography, by Ben Yogoda.

Will Rogers His Life and Times Edited by Richard M Ketchum in co-operation with the Will Rogers Memorial Commission for American Heritage Publishing Co NY 1973

1830 McMinn Co TN Census
1840 McMinn Co TN Census
1850 McMinn Co TN Census                                                                                                                Tall Tales and Unusual Happenings of McMinn County TN ed by R. Frank McKinney (copies available through the McMinn Co TN Historical Society)
Tennessee Country Historical Series: McMinn County by C Stephen Byrum
1820-1870 McMinn Co Marriages by Reba Bayless Boyer
The 1836 McMinn Co Tax List

Source article: Alabama Historical Quarterly, fall issue, 1947

The following were internet resources:

John M Adair testimony
John Martin Adair testimony
John Hembree papers Brought to us by Larry Petrisky and the McMinn Co TN ALHN site
The Gunters Webpage
The Official Cherokee Nation website-Info on Original Districts
An Intruders List Cherokee Nation 1797  Letter from Silas Dinsmore to John Sevier
Descendants of Nancy Ward
Rogers Dawson Connection
Intruders on Indian Lands 1801-1816
Chief John Joseph Vann by Dick Fox: references used at this site was “Vann Generations with Cherokee Origins from John Joseph Vann & James Clement Vann I of NC, SC, TN, GA ca 1750-1989”, Wm.H Vann II, Ft. Worth, Texas; “Cherokees and Missionaries 1789-1839”, W.G. McLoughlin, 1984; “Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic”, W.G. McLoughlin, 1986; “Cherokees of the Old South”, H.T. Malone, 1956; “Chronicles of Oklahoma”, Vol. XXXII, p94; “Old Cherokee Families”, Starr ;“Gann and Painter Ancestors of Paul Thurman Butler”, p11; “Families of Samuel Dawson and Polly Ann Rogers”, J.D.Blackwell; “Genealogy of Patrick Magee and Rosanna McCullar”, C.E.Moore; D.A.R. Historical Marker at Chief Vann House, Dalton, GA; “Whites Among the Cherokees, Georgia 1828-1838”, Warren & Weeks, 1987; “Oklahoma Chronicles”, Vol. XXXII, p 99; “Historical Sketch of the Cherokee”, James Mooney, 1975 ;“Annals of Tennessee”, Ramsey; “Cherokee Tragedy”, Wilkins, 1970; “Red Over Black”, R. Halliburton Jr., 1977
Rogers Raincrow Genealogy
The Oak Ridger
The Rogers mailing List at
The CherokeeGeneCommunity at
The Trails of Tears List at
 Cherokee Settlers
Cherokee History
Cherokee by Blood

For more information on the web about Will Rogers please visit  or

My Thanks go out to everyone who helped me gather information on this project.  I couldn't have done it without you.

Sharon McCormack

Tuesday, 11-Sep-2018 03:38:39 MDT




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