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Three Percent of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA from Ancestor Who Rounded Up Cherokees for ‘Trail of Tears’

Native American Woman
John L. Mone/AP

Breitbart News first reported in 2012 that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) great-great-great grandfather Jonathan Crawford was a member of the Tennessee Militia that rounded up Cherokees living there at the time for the Trail of Tears journey to Oklahoma in the 1830s.

This gives Warren a 1/32, or 3.125 percent, Tennessee Militia heritage, at least double the maximum 1.56 percent, minimum 0.1 percent, Native American heritage Dr. Carlos Bustamante said the evidence in the DNA genotypes purported to come from Warrren’s DNA sample “strongly suggests” in his October 10, 2018 report released by Sen. Warren on Monday.

In the more than 30 years since she first claimed Native American ancestry, Warren has failed to produce a single piece of credible historical documentary evidence to support that claim. The release of Bustamante’s report on Monday was the first time she presented what she purports to be genetic evidence to support the claim.

The evidence establishing Warren’s direct descent from Crawford, a member of the Tennessee Militia that rounded up Cherokees living in Tennessee in the 1830s, is well documented.

Here are the five generations between Elizabeth Warren and Jonathan Houston Crawford, as documented by Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes at her website, Polly’s Granddaughter, which is summarized here:

Generation 1 (1/2 or 50 percent ancestry), Elizabeth Warren’s mother:

Pauline Louise Reed, the mother of Ms. Warren, was the child of Harry G. Reed and Bethania “Hannie” Crawford. She was born in Hughes County, Oklahoma, on February 14, 1912. She was found on the 1920 US Census living in Hickory Ridge, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma with her parents and siblings, race listed as white. She was found on the 1930 US Census living in Wetumka, Hughes County, Oklahoma with her parents, race listed as whiteShe married Don Herring on January 2, 1932 in Hughes County, Oklahoma. She was found on the 1940 US Censusliving in Wetumka, Hughes County, Oklahoma with her husband and children, race listed as white. She died July 18, 1995.

Generation 2 (1/4 or 25 percent ancestry), Elizabeth Warren’s grandmother:

Bethania Elvina “Hannie” Crawford: born 29 Oct 1875 in Laclede County, Missouri; died 11 Nov 1969 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, was the child of John Houston Crawford and Paulina Ann Bowen. She married Harry Gunn Reed on June 2, 1893 in Sebastian, Arkansas.

Generation 3 (1/8 or 12.5 percent ancestry), Elizabeth Warren’s great-grandfather

John Houston Crawford: born 26 Mar 1858 in Laclede County, Missouri; died 23 Jan 1924 in Hughes County, Oklahoma, was the child of Preston H. Crawford and Edith May Marsh. He married Paulina Ann Bowen.

A 1907 newspaper article described John H. Crawford as a “white man” who shot at an Indian.

Generation 4 (1/16 or 6.25 percent ancestry), Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-grandfather

Preston H Crawford:born 1824 in Tennessee; died 1875 in Laclede County, Missouri, was the child of Jonathan H. Crawford and O.C. Sarah Smith. He married Edith May Marsh.

Generation 5 (1/32 or 3.125 percent ancestry), Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandfather

According to findagrave.com, Jonathan Houston Crawford was born in Tennessee in 1795, married Neoma “Oma” C. Sarah Smith in Bledsoe County, Tennessee in 1819, and died in Jackson County, Tennessee.

They had 8 children, including Preston J. born about 1824, and William J. Crawford born about 1838, who married Mary Longworth in Oklahoma in 1894.

The evidence establishing Crawford as a member of the Tennessee Militia in 1835 and 1836 is also well documented, as Breitbart News first reported in 2012:

Jonathan Crawford, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s husband and apparently Ms. Warren’s great-great-great grandfather, served in the East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia commanded by Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap from late 1835 to late 1836. While under Dunlap’s command he was a member of Major William Lauderdale’s Battalion, and Captain Richard E. Waterhouse’s Company.

These were the troops responsible for removing Cherokee families from homes they had lived in for generations in the three states that the Cherokee Nations had considered their homelands for centuries: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

While these involuntary home removals were not characterized by widespread violence, the newly displaced Cherokee mothers, fathers, and children found an oppressive and sometimes brutal welcome when they finally arrived at the hastily constructed containment areas. An estimated 4,000 Cherokees were warehoused in Ross’s Landing stockades for months awaiting supplies and additional armed guards the Federal Government believed necessary to relocate them on foot to Oklahoma.

Jonathan Crawford most likely did not join the regular Army troops who “escorted” these Cherokees along the Trail of Tears. He did, however, serve once more with Major William Lauderdale’s re-formed Batallion of Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia. This group fought the Seminole Indians in Florida during the Second Seminole War. Crawford arrived in Florida in November, 1837, and served there for six months until his unit was disbanded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana the following May. (Note: It was not uncommon in those days for militia formed to serve for a limited period of time under specific commanders would reform later under the same commanders.)

Jonathan Crawford’s service as a Private in Captain Richard E. Waterhouse’s Company of Major William Lauderdale’s Battalion of Mounted Infantry in Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap’s East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteers is confirmed by his appearance in the muster roll of the Brigade, taken around June of 1836. (Note that this transcription of the muster roll incorrectly lists the date as 1832.)

His service a year later (1837) in Major William Lauderdale’s Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Infantry (Five companies of volunteers, one of which was led by Captain Richard E. Waterhouse) is confirmed by his widow O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s 1851 pension application before the Bledsoe County, Tennessee commissioners

The evidence that Crawford’s unit helped round up the Cherokee in 1836 is also well documented.

“President Jackson officially proclaimed the Cherokee Removal Treaty, also in 1836. Gen. R. G. Dunlap and his troops policed the Cherokees in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia as they were moved west. There was no uprising,” according to a brief biography of Dunlap, written by his descendant, Kenneth Dunlap, in 2003.

Dunlap’s command role in the removal of Cherokees from Tennessee was documented in the “Report from the Secretary of War in Compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 13th October, 1837, in relation to the Cherokee treaty of 1835”, which was “Laid on the table [of the United States Senate on] January 15, 1838.”

General Order, No.2, (see page 12 of the report) signed by John E. Wool, “Brig. Gen. commanding in Cherokee country,” at Athens, Tennessee on July 10, 1836, stated that:

Brigadier General Dunlap will forthwith select from his brigade of volunteers, two regiments, of ten companies each, including tow companies of infantry for active service, subject to the approval of the Commanding Gneral, to serve twelve months, unless sooner discharged.

The remaining regiments and companies will be ordered to their homes, to wait the further orders of the President of the United States and Commanding General of the army of East Tennessee and the Cherokee nation.

On December 21, 1836, a John Crawford was one of 29 members of the Tennessee Militia “residing in the Athens [Tennessee] area” who signed a letter, seen on page 755 of that 1838 report to the United States Senate, stating that “we consider said George W. Currey eminently qualified to be the successor, as superintendent, for the removal of Cherokee Indians.”

Notably, Athens, Tennessee is located in McMinn County, Tennessee, which is immediately adjacent to Bledsoe County, Tennessee, where Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandfather Jonathan Crawford and his wife O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford lived for much of their adult lives.

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