How Do You Know?

After successfully tracing my father’s family from New Jersey to the Soviet Union and back again, I am up to a more relevant challenge— investigating the Native American heritage of Elizabeth Warren.

I admit that I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but I am approaching this scientifically and will let the facts determine the outcome rather than the hearsay of the uneducated.

Last night I began my research with what was readily available—Senator Warren’s birth information, including the names of her parents. They were Donald Jones Herring and Pauline Reed, who were both born in Oklahoma. I decided to first research the path to proving/disproving the Native American link through her mother.

Pauline Reed was the daughter of Harry Gunn Reed and Bethania Elvina “Hannie” Crawford, who were married at Fort Smith Arkansas in 1893. I found a copy of their marriage certificate online, which stated that at the time of their marriage, Grandpa Harry was a resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Grandma Hannie was a resident of “Indian Territory.”

Crawford-Reed Marriage - Copy


Prior to the marriage of Elizabeth’s grandmother Hannie, I learned that she was born in Missouri in 1875. This can be verified via multiple census records (1880, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940)

Senator Warren’s great grandfather, John Houston Crawford, was born in Missouri to Preston Crawford and Edith Marsh, both from Tennessee. I found multiple trees claiming Preston’s father was born in North Carolina, but I have not verified this.

What is significant to this story is that I found that the Cherokee Indians were living in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia around 1820. The Indians began moving west into Missouri and Arkansas and ultimately to Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, which became Indian Territory.

During the 1900 census, John Houston Crawford was living in the state “Indian Territory”, county “Cherokee Nation” with six of his children. While they were listed as “white,” that proves nothing since it was not unusual to hide the truth for fear of discrimination.

1900 Census- Cherokee Nation- Crawford

Next, I will research whether anyone could live on Indian Territory during that time who was not a Native American. At this point, I have not come to a conclusion as to the heritage of Senator Warren. What I do know is that this is not an easy task. What is Mr. Trump or Senator Brown’s evidence to the contrary?

The claims linking her to the Cherokee Indians via Sarah Smith Crawford are inaccurate because Sarah Smith was not her “great-great-great grandmother.” Sarah Smith was the second wife of great grandfather John Houston Crawford and therefore not a blood relative.

Senator Warren’s great grandmother, according to my research, was Pauline Ann Bowen. The key, in my opinion, is through John Houston Crawford.

The trail to Senator Warren’s Native American heritage is the migration of the family from areas inhabited by the Cherokee Indians- Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. I see a marriage certificate stating that Senator’s grandmother was living in Indian Territory and a census record showing her great grandfather living in the county “Cherokee Nation.”

This is not conclusive by any means, yet it definitely warrants further research and is not worthy of referring to Senator Warren as “racist” or claiming she is “not Native American.” Don’t call someone a liar until you can definitively prove so.



About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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2 Responses to How Do You Know?

  1. Jcarmick says:

    Living on Indian territory, you could easily have had an occurrence that led to Indian blood, but without it being recorded. Thus, the family would acknowledge the offspring as white.

    • kjw616 says:

      That is what I thought. People lie when they are afraid of telling the truth. Just because that 1900 census said “White,” (and there were pages where no one was listed as “Indian”) doesn’t mean the heritage was not Native American. All I am saying is this is not easy to determine. You have done genealogy research so you know what I mean.

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