of James Conardand Elizabeth (Beasley) Conard
Brother ofGeorge W Conard, Catharine Elizabeth (Conard) Franklin, James W Conard, John Aaron Conard andHarvey Conard
Husband ofPolly Marcum— married[date unknown] [location unknown]
Father ofWilliam Jefferson Conrad andElizabeth (Conrad) Hurst
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Profile last modified | Created 27 Aug 2019
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“An Indian is an Indian regardless of the degree of Indian blood or which little government card they do or do not possess.” - Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, 1987-1995
Jeremiah had a very unique early Colonial American multi-ethnic ancestry that includes some historically significant (although distant and somewhat speculative) categories. These include the descendants of several Cherokee Matriarchs and their European Indian Trader spouses. These also include several other indigenous (Yuchi, Creek, Catawba related) sources, as well as some VERY early colonial Melungeon source ancestors that probably entered North America as early as 1559-1661 via the failed Spanish Luna Expedition (led by Tristán de Luna y Arellano). These "settlers" (some perhaps escaped Spanish captives) first entered America around Mobile bay in 1559 (after the DeSoto Expedition), and quickly moved northward to the Coosa Chiefdom in NW Georgia/SE Tennessee (where they were still found living in 1670 by the Needham and Arthur Expedition). Jeremiah's mother probably mostly descends from some of these early Seventeenth Century Southern Appalachian silver and gem miners (the ancestors of the Melungeons), that lived alongside the Yuchi, the Creeks and the Cherokee for over 200 years before the Revolutionary War. They were marooned there after they and their Yuchi/Apalachee trading partners were abandoned by the Spanish Mission outposts in Spanish Florida that were destroyed by the British Carolinians (and their Indian allies) during Queen Anne's War (the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702–1713). Some of these "Portuguese" Sephardic and North African miners may have been trying to escape the Spanish Inquisition and/or Spanish captivity (and most had first resided or were captured in other remote areas of the early Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Empires, such as Cartagena Columbia or Northwestern Africa before becoming "marooned" clandestinely in Appalachia). Many had already taken Yuchi/Proto-Creek spouses before the Cherokees (at least the ones that were remnants of the Erie tribe, the Rickohocken) had even arrived in the Eastern Tennessee from areas to the north, well before the late 1600s. Only later (in the early 1800s), did Jeremiah's Yuchi/Creek and Melungeon Mixed ancestors (from his mother's side), intermingle with his Mixed-blood Cherokee ancestors (from his father's side).
Descendants of these mixed Melungeon families, marooned in remote Southern Appalachian areas well beyond Spanish Florida control (from the late 1500s until the early 1700s), were a (probably unwelcome) minority living and intermarrying among the Yuchi and Creeks that first lived in the areas that eventually became the Cherokee controlled regions of far western North Carolina (near Sylva and Robbinsville, NC, as well as near Helen, GA). Some later intermarried with the Cherokees. The majority were probably expelled by the Cherokee starting around the time of the Yamasee War around 1715, and finally for good around 1745 (at least from the Hiawassee and Tuskegee River Valleys). A small remnant then resided in the Pigeon and French Broad River Valleys until some left the area and intermarried with the early Watauga Tennessee (State of Franklin) settlers and some of the very early Kentucky European American settlers that fought against the Cherokee and Shawnee during the Cherokee-American and Northwest Territory Indian Wars (1775-1795). Some still live in in Western North Carolina to this day (including the many descendants of the Conards'). Over the centuries most Melungeons assimilated into the Anglo-American Appalachian culture that eventually surrounded them, although some moved west to Arkansas and the Oklahoma Indian Territory with the "Cherokee Old Settlers" before (or as a result of) the 1830 Indian Removal Act and lived among the Cherokees there. As people of mixed race in Antebellum America, many Melungeons historically faced the same discrimination that Native Americans and other "free people of color" in the south experienced (until the 1960s). Today, the Melungeons no longer exist as a cohesive ethnic minority group (and the term "Melungeon" itself became an ethnic slur historically in NE Tennessee, and was never really used by the Melungeons or Melungeon descendants until recently). They perhaps only have any significance or modern relevance when placed within their historical context.
Jeremiah was most likely born in 1830 around Calhoun Tennessee, along the banks of the Hiawassee River. Jeremiah's non-Cherokee maternal Beasley grandfather may have moved to this area of Tennessee with the rest of his family from Kentucky around 1820. He may have worked with (or for) John Walker Jr., Caleb Starr, James Hughes, Carter & Leroy Markham, and/or other Cherokee related business associates until the Walkers', Starrs' and Markhams' removed to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1835-1836 with the "Old Settlers" (before the "Trail of Tears"). It is thought by descendants that Jeremiah's mother Elizabeth Beasley may have been a niece or close relative of the Cherokee related James Hughes family that moved to McMinn County TN from the Pendleton District / Ninety-Six area of South Carolina before around 1817-19. These Hughes had apparently already mostly assimilated in SC around the Revolutionary War, and were probably more aligned with the Pro-Removal Treaty Party faction by the 1830s (even though some of their ancestors descended from several early Cherokee Wild Potato Clan Matriarchs that were married to colonial SC Indian Traders such as Cornelius Dougherty and Bernard Hughes in the mid to early 1700's; James Hughes father may have been the same Charles Hughes who was killed by James Vann in a intra-tribal clan dispute; I realize that this is unprovable, but may help explain why these Hughes had a weak Cherokee tribal affiliation by the 1800s and suddenly moved north to Kentucky in exactly 1835-36 after the Treaty of New Echota was signed). It also may be because they were considered U.S. Citizens after the 1817-1819 Treaties, or because they were among the very few mixed Cherokee families that continued to own land is SC that they inherited from their former European Fur Trading patriarchs (Dougherty, Beamer, Fields, Grant, Goedy, Hughes, Vann, Parris, etc.).
This may be how it was possible for Jeremiah's mother Elizabeth (through her mothers Hughes family Cherokee connection) to have come in contact with Jeremiah's purported Cherokee father (alleged to be James Hair a.k.a. James Conrad, son of Hair Conrad; through the Cherokee related Hughes who knew the Cherokee Conrads', Starrs', and Markhams'). As a result of living literally on the border of the final boundaries of the Old Cherokee Nation in the 1820s with mixed-Cherokee related families, Elizabeth (Jeremiah's mother) apparently eventually began a multi-year relationship there with a mixed-blood Cherokee man (alleged by descendants to be named James Conrad). This relationship resulted in several children that thereafter used the surname Conrad or Conard, as did Elizabeth (although the "marriage" was never formalized, either by the Cherokees or the U.S.A. courts). Whatever the circumstances of the relationship, it was ultimately literally ripped apart by Andrew Jackson's 1830 Indian Removal Act and the subsequent 1838 removal of the Cherokees west to Indian Territory. Elizabeth (who was a U.S. Citizen; born in KY) may have feared of being parted from her children (who obviously looked like their Cherokee father), and perhaps with the assistance of her Beasley or Hughes family moved her children to Haywood County N.C. after 1835, but certainly before the many remaining Cherokees (including James Conrad, the father of her children, Hair Degoska Conrad, the grandfather and leader of the 1st detachment on the "Trail of Tears", and Katie North, the grandmother) were forced west by the U.S Military in 1838.
Hair Conrad and his family (Ollie Candy) were National Party (aligned with Ross), and were not considered U.S. Citizens (at the time). The Conrads' were still living within the borders of the Old Cherokee Nation at the time of removal, and were citizens of the Cherokee Nation. Therefore we assume Jeremiah's alleged father was forced west with thousands of other Cherokees in the infamous "Trail of Tears", and understandably was "out of the picture" after that. Whomever Jeremiah's mixed-blood Cherokee father was, we know he was either forced west on the "Trail of Tears" in 1838, was killed, or died before 1840 Census. This is because it is on the 1840 census when we first find Jeremiah's mother Elizabeth Conard (sic. Conrad) "widowed" living in Haywood County, North Carolina with 8 children (5 boys; 3 girls). Jeremiah apparently remained with his mother and siblings in the East after 1838 (in Haywood County, North Carolina), living near Norris relatives (another Hughes aunt originally from "96" in SC?), before eventually moving north to live next to the Hughes in Owsley and Jackson County Kentucky around the 1850s, and starting a family there.
There had always been a strong oral family assertion passed down over several generations by his descendants that Jeremiah was a mixed-blood Cherokee passing as a white man who was descended from German, English and Scottish Cherokee fur traders and their Native American common law wives. This description alone is certainly a gross oversimplification of his full multi-ethnic heritage. Jeremiah was (based upon the DNA evidence of some of his descendants) also of Melungeon descent, with distant Spanish/Portuguese Marrano (Sephardic), West African, North African, and most likely Saponi, Occaneechi, and/or other Catawba (Eastern Siouian Language Family) related Native American Tribal Ancestors (most likely through his mother's Beasley father or via the spouses the European/Cherokee Hughes married into when living in South Carolina). There are Beasley's in NC that descend from the Chowanoke Tribe in Bertie County NC, and they may have mixed with a few of the remnants of Tom Blount's band of Tuscarora Indians that assimilated and worked for Quaker locals instead of joining the Iroquois to the north after the warfare of the early 1700's (Tuscarora War; Yamasee War). Bertie County is the same area where survivors of the "Lost Colony of Roanoke" may have mixed with the local native populations, and is the same area where Sir Francis Drake marooned the many "captives" he transported from his Cartagena raid against the Spanish in 1586 (this one of the many theorized sources of the Melungeons, besides the Saponi Indians). As with many of the purported Melungeons, there isn't much definitive documentation to corroborate this assertion, as they lived clandestinely on the fringes of early Native American and Colonial American society for over 200 years. Other than small amounts of DNA evidence, subjective interpretations of the photographs of descendants or relatives, and speculative naming connections to known historical white Indian trading families and their mixed-native descendants, there is very little recorded evidence to back up these claims. Jeremiah passed away after 1910 along the border of Owsley and Jackson Counties in Kentucky.
Another "theory" is that Jeremiah was at least partially descended from the remnants of the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi refugees of the Inquisition that first entered Appalachia from the south via Spanish Florida in the late 1500s and early 1600s (which then included parts of Georgia and the Carolinas). Many of the mixed-blood Cherokees, Savannah Shawnees, Creeks, and Chickasaws share this heritage as well. Several descendants of JFC do show 2 to 5 percent of Iberian and/or North African DNA, over multiple generations. If there is any small admixture of Native American (DNA also seems to suggest this, but it must be emphasized that it is a really small amount), it may not even be Cherokee (at least from his maternal Beasley side), which would help to explain why his family never signed up for the Chapman or Siler rolls during the Indian removal period. It was probably more likely Saponi or Occaneechi, and perhaps even Apalachee/Tamatli Creek, Yuchi, Natchez, Rickohocken (remnants of the Erie Tribe that migrated southwards and joined the Cherokees as a result of the Iroquois Beaver Wars), Yamasee, Cheraw, Catawba, Shawnee, Tuscarora, Chowanoke, or any small mixture of any of these (or none of these).
The earliest historical record of Jeremiah's existence found (so far) is his marriage record to Mary Marcum on August 13, 1856 in Owsley County Kentucky. On this marriage record Jeremiah lists his place of birth as "unknown" and his age as 23, and Mary lists her place of birth as Morgan County, Indiana and her age as 22 (she was born in 1834). The first time Jeremiah is found in any U.S. Census records he is living in Owsley County, KY with his wife Mary (Polly); he lists his age as 29 and his place of birth as North Carolina.
Autosomal DNA analysis of Jeremiah's descendants shows that they share chromosomal segments with descendants of the James Conard and Elizabeth Beasley family that eventually lived in 1840 near the Big and Little Cataloochee historic community in what is now the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Haywood County, North Carolina. Sometimes this family spelled its last name as "Conrad" (on tombstones), "Coonrod" (on the 1840 census record), "Coonrad" (on the 1850 census record), and more often (at least for the North Carolina descendants) "Conard" (subsequently after the 1850's).
Elizabeth (Beasley) first appears in the 1840 census in Haywood County, N.C. with eight children (5 male, 3 female) but no husband. The 1850 census lists her with three children John, age 16, James age 13, and William age 10. George Coonrad age 28 is married and living next door, and Catherine age 23 is also married to a John Franklin and living next door. A Letta age 22 and Mary age 30 are also living with this extended family group with a John Coldwell (Caldwell). It is suspected that Letta and Mary might be the other two unknown females from the 1840 census "Coonrod" family group. Jeremiah is nowhere to be found on the 1850 census (anywhere in the United States), and does not first appear on a census until he is shown living in Owsley County, Kentucky in 1860 (see above).
The ages of George Coonrad (28) and Mary (30) seem to suggest that either Elizabeth (Beasley) Conard (1810-1885) was born well before 1810 (in order for it to be possible for her to be their mother), or George and Mary were siblings of her husband, or some other extended related family to her (as they were too old by 1850 to possibly be her children if she was born in 1810). The Mary listed living in the household of John Coldwell may not have been a daughter of Elizabeth anyway (this is more likely given her age), but either way George Coonrad is way too old to be Elizabeth (Beasley) Conard's son (if the ages listed for them in the 1850 census are correct).
John Coldwell was a member of the several white (or possibly Melungeon) Caldwell (Coldwell) families that moved into the Big and Little Cataloochee Valleys in Haywood County North Carolina by 1850. This included Levi Belese Caldwell (1815-1864). According to Levi's Geni webpage (link and source listed below), "The Cherokee gave up their claims to Cataloochee when they signed the Treaty of Holston in 1791. Nevertheless, they continued to hunt and fish in the valley throughout the 19th century. Hattie Caldwell Davis, a descendant of Cataloochee's first Euro-American settlers, recalled that her ancestors spoke "fluent Cherokee," (or some other Melungeon-related Native American or Ladino language) and were always on friendly terms with the natives. Davis' great-grandfather, Levi, is believed to have provided aide to Cherokees hiding in the forest during the Trail of Tears period".
This anecdote of course does not prove that the Little Cataloochee Conard family group were Cherokee or Native American (they may have just known and were friendly with the Cherokees). There also is not any evidence that Jeremiah Franklin Conrad even lived in Little Cataloochee except for several census records that state that he was born in North Carolina, and the autosomal DNA match to other descendants from this Little Cataloochee Conard family group. These Conrad/Conards may have simply been Melungeons "squatting" on formerly ceded Cherokee treaty land, and since they were already living near the Cataloochee Valley when the Coldwells' and other white American families arrived, and the new settlers simply "assumed" that they were Cherokee.
There is a disputed and much debated "Find a Grave" webpage for James Conard 1808-1840 that asserts that James Conrad's father was Hair Conrad 1775-1844. Extensive discussions among a descendant of James Conard and Elizabeth Beasley with a well respected citizen of the Cherokee Nation about a possible speculative connection have been made (see https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/782956/one-plus-one-three), and it not able to be proven via any historical documentation that the James Conrad that is alleged to have been the father of Elizabeth (Beasley) Conard's eight children (if this James even existed) was definitively the son of Hair Conrad named "James Hair" 1808-1863. Some genealogical webpages mistakenly list "James Hair" as "James Conrad" (which is the source of this confusion).
The original European progenitor of Hair Conrad's mixed-blood Cherokee "Conrad" family was his paternal grandfather, an Indian Trader named Johannes Conrad (1720-1754). According to the Cherokee historian Emmet Starr, Johannes Conrad married Jennie Ani-Waya (a memeber of the Cherokee Wolf Clan) and she was somehow connected to/related to/or possibly a daughter of Oconastota (this is disputed and probably not true as Jennie was most likely Lower Cherokee and not from the Overhill region as was Oconastota). Emmet Starr records that Jennie Ani-Waya had a son named "Hamilton Conrad", but this is now thought to refer to a Cherokee named "Gunrod". Hair Conrad's father was "Gunrod" (rhymes with Conrad?), and Gunrod (1750ish-1817ish) was spoken of fondly by the Moravian Missionaries as "a man honored and loved by White and Brown people alike". There is absolutely no way to positively connect the mysterious Haywood County Coonrad/Conard family with either the white (probably from South Carolina) trading family of this Johannes Conrad or the Cherokee trading family (probably from what became Tennessee or North Carolina), but it could explain a possible origin for the Conrad / Conard surname. Gunrod could have had brothers or half-brothers (Including one named "Hamilton"), or he could have had children with other wives; if so, no evidence has yet been found of this, and this is all complete speculation at this point.
The strongest evidence linking Jeremiah's mothers side to the Cherokee Hughes family is the migration similarities with the James Hughes family from South Carolina's Ninety-Six, SC area, first to McMinn County TN, and then finally to Owsley & Jackson County Kentucky. Jeremiah Franklin Conrad's eventually migrated from Haywood County North Carolina to the Owsley & Jackson County Kentucky line (Green Hall, KY) before he got married in the 1850s. Jeremiah eventually settled with his wife and Marcum (Markham) in-laws next door to Meredith Childers Hughes 1805-1872 (James Hughes son), who was born in South Carolina, and lived in the 1820s and 1830s in McMinn County TN near Caleb Starr. As mentioned before, Meredith C. Hughes moved from McMinn County Tennessee to Owsley (then Clay) County Kentucky with his parents around 1835. Meredith was a surveyor, his son (also named Meredith C. "Bud" Hughes Jr.) was a postmaster, and he had a brother and a cousin named Caleb Starr Hughes. It is thought that he the elder Meredith helped Jeremiah Franklin Conrad and his father in law (James Marcum) obtain small land grants in Owsley County Kentucky in the 1850s. This shows you how "assimilated" these "Cherokee" Hughes were before they moved out of South Carolina. Although they could "pass" as white and were considered U.S. Citizens, they were still proud of their distant Cherokee heritage (even though they had left the tribe).
According to an unverified oral history from a Meredith C. Hughes descendant, "a large contingent of Indians come to visit him in Clay County, Kentucky after he moved there" (probably during the Indian removal period, Owsley and Jackson Counties were subsequently created from Clay county after the 1840s). It is suspected by descendants that Meredith knew and was friends with the Conrad Cherokee father of Jeremiah (Meredith and Jeremiah's father would have been about the same age). The Hughes also thought highly of Caleb Star (who they both may have worked for and/or were business partners with; again, Meredith had a brother and relatives named Caleb Starr Hughes). Meredith settled near Green Hall in what became Owsley County Kentucky when it was still part of Clay County (before 1843). Some of the Kentucky Hughes seemed to later move to the adjacent Jackson County Kentucky, and as did Jeremiah Franklin Conrad and his family, but this is only because Jackson County was partially created out of Owsley County. They didn't move, they just happened to be located barely within the boundaries of the newly created Jackson County (near Maulden, KY) after it was created.
It is also interesting to note that Jeremiah's older brother (George W. Conard) had a daughter named Christine (photo at top right) who was married to Elijah Messer. Elijah served in Thomas's Legion during the Civil War, which had two full companies of Cherokees, along with several regular white mountaineer companies. Elijah served in company E (with the mountaineers, not with the Cherokee companies). Elijah and Christina were married on Dec. 19, 1866, after the war. Thomas's Legion was named for William Holland Thomas (a North Carolina State Senator, and an adopted son of Chief Yonaguska), and he was the only white man (out of necessity due to the American Indian racism of the time) to be the Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from about 1839 to about 1867.
- "US Census, 1860", database online. Travellers Rest, Owsley, Kentucky, USA; pg. 10, family 68, dwelling 68, lines 32-36; June 14, 1860;
- "US Census, 1870", database online. Green Hall, Sturgeon, Jackson, Kentucky, USA; pg. 4, family 30, dwelling 30, lines 21-28; June 29, 1870;
- Hattie Caldwell Davis, Cataloochee Valley: Vanished Settlements of the Great Smoky Mountains (Alexander, N.C.: Worldcomm, 1997), 18, 31.
- "United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXWC-1NV: 19 March 2020), Jeremiah Conrad, 1870.