Cherokee Heritage Center

The Center consists of a living history Cherokee village, a museum, and small township of historical buildings. Dedicated to the perservation of Cherokee culture and history, it is one of the most widely visited Native American sites in Oklahoma.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Searching for Cherokee Connections in Illinois

"Mom", who was actually my paternal Grandmother, was born in Southern IL in 1910. So far as anyone in the family (now living) knows, she always believed she was the daughter of the Smith family. My Grandmother was raised as Opal Nokomis SMITH, and told that her father was Cherokee and her mother was "Indian with a little French, and the French was from way back."

It was always important to my Grandmother that I, her only granddaughter, learn all I could about our heritage. I took notes as she talked and then promptly stuck them away in my family bible. My Grandmother passed away in 1991, still believing she was the daughter of the Smiths who raised her.

About two years after the passing of my Grandmother I became interested in genealogy and the search began.

Both my brother and I had serious doubts about the story of the "Cherokee father, Indian mother" in pertaining to the Smith's. Things simply were not adding up with the information I was obtaining. The father who raised my Grandmother may have had some Indian blood from several generations back and there were rumors the mother could have had a little as well. The doubts accumulated as we began to put pieces together. For one thing my Grandmother was an only child for this couple, they had one stillborn infant prior to my Grandmother's birthdate. In 1910 my grandmother was bottle fed, I still have her baby bottle.

My Grandmother was quite dark, eyes, hair and skin, neither of the Smith's compared. Then a couple of years into my search, a genealogist friend of mine decided to look into this frustrating situation for me. It was discovered that my Grandmother came into the Smith household in the year of her birth with the name Selva COX. There apparently was no legal adoption or paperwork of any kind. So Selva was "taken in" and her name changed to Opal Nokomis Smith...and my Grandmother never knew she was not the biological child of the couple who raised her.

The search continues, I have gained little ground since discovering the Selva to Opal name change. The only relatives still living are all younger than my grandmother and have no information to offer. I have attempted to follow any lead or advice offered with no success.

Still searching in Illinois!
Robin Roberts

Infant Selva Opal

Selva Opal as an adult


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's bizarre. That could be my grandmother--I mean in the situation. My grandmother looks like her father is fullblood, but he's not. HM...

8:51 PM  

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